World Bank appoints Lin Yifu as chief economist

  • By picking a candidate from China, the World Bank will be able to better serve developing countries.

The World Bank has appointed its first chief economist from a developing country to work at the institution.

Justin Yifu Lin, a leading academic from Peking University who is originally from Taiwan, is the first Chinese citizen to hold the position.

Former chief economists include US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.

World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, said Professor Lin brings unique skills and experience to the job.

Professor Lin is set to assume office at the end of May, taking over from France's Francois Bourguignon., who served at the bank from 2003 to October 2007.

"This appointment is a high honour, and it's a historic decision for the World Bank," Prof Lin said.
"By picking a candidate from China, the World Bank will be able to better serve developing countries."

Prof Lin believes the World Bank could help African countries find a successful development path and that China's experience can be useful in this regard.

"His appointment to the world's largest development agency shows the growing influence of China's economic reform," the BBC's China Editor Shirong Chen believes.

'No ordinary citizen'
The 56 year-old academic was born in Taiwan and as an army lieutenant defected to China in May 1979 by swimming two kilometres to the mainland from the Taiwanese controlled island of Kinmen.

"He is no ordinary Chinese citizen," Shirong Chen said.

After gaining his doctorate from Chicago in 1986, he returned to China to serve in the government think tank on rural development.

Prof Lin is well known for his work on economic and agricultural reforms as well as rural modernisation.

In his book The China Miracle, he explained the comparative advantages of the Chinese economy in the global market.

He founded the China Centre for Economic Research in 1994 and has also served as vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and vice-chairman of the Economy Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress.

This experience provided him with access to China's top decision makers.


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