by Liu Fan
NEW YORK, April 28 (Xinhua) -- China's presence in international financial institutions should be further increased in line with its rising economic influence, former World Bank President James Wolfensohn said Monday.
Commenting on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement about China's growth and its engagement in international fields, issued Monday, Wolfensohn, who governed World Bank from 1995 to 2005, said the IMF and World Bank undoubtedly wanted China to play a bigger role in the two institutions, but he did not think they had done enough so far.
If China maintained its pace of growth, "a huge shift" would take place in the world economy by 2050, or even earlier, in which China would become the top economic power, he told Xinhua, adding countries outside China needed to understand and recognize this rapid progress.
Wolfensohn said it was going to be very important in the next few years to bring about a rational share of ownership and participation in the management of the international financial institutions for China and India, another key emerging market that had also witnessed rapid growth in the past decades.
Wolfensohn paid serious attention to China's opening up amid its closely watched market-oriented economic reforms, saying he was "very heartened" by the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which was established in September as a test bed for the Chinese leadership's drive to deepen market-oriented reforms and boost economic vitality.
He noted, however, there was still a long way to go for Shanghai to become the international financial center which many people would like to see, stressing the challenge China now faced was to complete the process of interest rate liberalization within the country.
Wolfensohn suggested the Chinese government broaden its market to have more sophisticated financial products, such as mortgages, pensions and insurance products, that could benefit from foreign banks and their experience.
The former World Bank president also expressed his optimism on the potential for financial cooperation between China and the United States, saying it was important now to recognize the huge power of Chinese banks in terms of their currency reserves, and the U.S. banks' rich experience in lending internationally.
"If there is some way to build a level of confidence and openness between the two institutions, that would be an unbeatable combination. But there is a need to get the agreement at government level about openness, about transparency, and about trade," he said, adding the strategic dialogue between the two countries should be continued and both countries could benefit greatly from exchanging ideas.
Wolfensohn also spoke highly of the accomplishments the world's two largest economies had achieved since they established diplomatic relations in 1979.