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The New Rules: Make China the Face of the World Bank

Monday, March 19, 2012

When Robert Zoellick recently announced that he won’t seek a second term as president of the World Bank, representatives of numerous emerging-market countries issued a flood of statements decrying America’s 66-year lock on the position. Meanwhile, the Chinese went out of their way within the organization to express their firm desire to have a commanding say in who succeeds Zoellick. Insiders are predicting that an American will still win the spot and that the Chinese simply want to exercise a showy veto over the proceedings. That would be too bad, because there are a host of good reasons why Washington should presently burden Beijing with the job of running the World Bank.

It would force China to be a “responsible stakeholder.” The symmetry here would be spectacular, as it was Zoellick himself who, as deputy secretary of state under President George W. Bush, coined the phrase in describing the administration’s desire that China start pulling its weight in a global leadership role. If Washington wants China to assume such stake-holding leadership, then it needs to lure Beijing into positions of genuine responsibility. And this is a perfect one, given China’s increasingly outsized role in the global economy. ...

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