World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Tuesday China has 150
million people living in acute poverty despite its impressive
economic growth in the past two decades, and the bank need to work
with China for the benefit of the poor of many countries.
Speaking at a press conference after his six day visit to China,
the president said the whole condition of China has improved
enormously, particularly the condition of the poor in China since
his first visit to China in February 1983 in a bleak winter week,
22 years ago.
During his first official visit as the president of the World
Bank, Wolfowitz said he intended to use this visit to understand
more about what has worked in China and what has not. "I also
wanted to see where we can be useful going forward. On both counts,
I think the visit has been a success."
"I have seen some of the poorest areas of the country, and
talked with people of all levels of society, from poor women in
villages in Gansu
to senior officials, including the Premier and the President, here
in Beijing, China has certainly come a long way in those 22 years
and the World Bank is proud to have been part of that story."
He described the relationship with China as very important to
the World Bank and the bank intends to stay engaged for China's
poverty-reduction, for international exchange of the experiences of
China's success story, and its inspiration to other developing
He explained that China still has work to do to help the roughly
150 million people who still live in acute poverty. "We can help
with money, although we no longer lend on concessional terms; but
more important, we can help with ideas and experience."
He said "China has a lot to teach the rest of the world. There
are lessons of experience-such as the Loess Plateau project that I
saw-that are relevant probably to other parts of the world. We can
too learn and share those lessons."
On reason why the bank is still involved with China as it sent
astronauts into space last week and has hundreds of billions of
dollars of foreign exchange reserves, the president said he put the
question the other way around: "how could the World Bank not be
working with the most populace country in the world, and the
country that still has the second-largest number of poor people in
any country in the world."
"As China changes, our relationship with China is changing. But
it continues to be a strong and productive relationship, and going
forward it will benefit China, the World Bank, and millions of poor
people in China and other countries around the world."
Citing his observation in the past 22 years, he said the
contrasts in China are striking. Beijing is a modern capital city,
transformed from when I saw it 22 years. But Lanzhou is one of the
most polluted cities in the world. In Juihuagou, they have
reclaimed land that was arid and eroded, and it now is lush and
"Not so far away, in Heping village in Gansu province, some
people just recently moved out of caves. There is an amazing span
in this country of income, of living standards, of environment, of
ethnic groupings, of religions. I'm still surprised that it's all
in one time zone."
The World Bank president left Beijing Tuesday afternoon
following his eight-day visit to China, which took him to northwest
China's Gansu Province, one of the country's poorest regions,
Beijing and nearly Hebei
Province for Group 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank
(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2005)