China says IMF race 'open' as Lagarde visits

08:27, June 09, 2011      

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China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told visiting French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde that the race to lead the International Monetary Fund was "open".

Earlier, China's foreign ministry said the choice of a new IMF chief should be based on "openness, transparency and merit, and better represent emerging markets and better reflect changes in the world economic structure".

Lagarde is the front-runner campaigning to be the new IMF managing director. The French finance minister traveled to Beijing overnight from New Delhi, where a day of talks with Indian leaders did not yield any public endorsement of her candidacy.

"We had a good discussion. She explained to me the purpose of her candidacy. I listened very carefully," Yang told reporters after his meeting with Lagarde.

"It's an open field now. There are quite a few people campaigning," Yang said in English. "China of course gives serious thought to this very important issue."

Lagarde held a marathon day of talks, meeting Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan and Vice Premier Wang Qishan. She held a dinner meeting with Finance Minister Xie Xuren.

Lagarde said: "It was very important for me to come explain the purpose of my candidacy to the Chinese authorities."

Lagarde is seen as the frontrunner to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last month after his arrest on sexual assault charges. Lagarde -- who has already visited Brazil, another major emerging economy -- has pledged to reform the IMF to give emerging and developing countries more power.

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday after meeting Lagarde that the choice of an IMF chief should be based on "merit" and "competence".

The other serious IMF contender, Mexico's central bank chief Agustin Carstens, visited Canada Tuesday and was to head to India on Friday.

By People's Daily Online / Agencies
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