Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Chinese economist lands key IMF secretary post

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2012, 12:00am


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International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde has named Chinese economist Jianhai Lin as the fund's secretary.

The IMF announced the appointment on Wednesday, set to take effect on March 22, with Lin becoming the first Chinese to head the secretary's department in the Washington-based global body. He will succeed India's Siddharth Tiwari, who was recently appointed director of the IMF's strategy, policy and review department.

Analysts said Lin's nomination was the latest sign of China's clout and the increased importance of emerging economies.

'It confirms the rising influence of China in international affairs and international organisations, especially as the IMF might rely on China to invest [in bailing] Europe out of its sovereign debt crisis,' said Hu Yifan, chief economist with Haitong International Research.

Beijing has said that it would prefer to use the IMF as a platform to help rescue the euro zone and has indicated that it is willing to make a contribution from its US$3.2 trillion foreign reserves, the world's largest.

Weeks after Lagarde was elected to the top post after the arrest of predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn in May over an alleged sexual assault, she appointed Zhu Min , former People's Bank of China deputy governor and special adviser to the IMF's managing director, as a deputy managing director of the fund.

Lagarde lauded Lin's wide-ranging IMF career in both country and policy work, saying his breadth of experience had been of particular benefit to the IMF. His skill in building consensus among staff, management and the IMF's global membership was essential during one of the most challenging periods in its history. Lin has been acting director of the secretary's department since November.

Hu said having a Chinese IMF secretary would make co-ordination easier, as major duties would deal with the operational side of the fund.

The secretary's department is responsible for daily security work of the IMF board and also regularly liaises with the fund's 187 member countries on institutional matters.

Lin studied at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and the University of California in Berkeley, and earned his doctorate in international finance from George Washington University. Before joining the IMF, he worked in the financial sector and academia.

After the management shake-up at the IMF in July, two of its four deputy managing directors are now Asian; one is Japanese and the other is Chinese.

In another key posting, Peking University economics professor Justin Lin Yifu was appointed the World Bank's chief economist in 2008.

Beijing has argued that it should have a greater say in the IMF and World Bank, which is traditionally helmed by an American.

World Bank chief Robert Zoellick, its 11th president, announced he would step down in June after his five-year tenure. Beijing said the next president of the World Bank should be chosen based on merit.

Analysts said Beijing had maintained a similar position when the IMF, an institution traditionally headed by Europeans, was searching for a new chief last year.