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Man with Mission Ready for World Bank

When the mainland began "crossing the river by feeling each stone", a reference to its opening and reform policies, Taiwan native Justin Lin decided he wanted in. A member of the provincial army at the time, he made his move by swimming across the Taiwan Straits.

Thirty years on, the 56-year-old will in May take up his new post as chief economist to the World Bank in Washington, where he hopes to share his experiences of "China's miracle" with other developing countries.

Closer to home, the stretch of water he once swam is today an obstacle to any thoughts he has of returning "home".

"I hope I can return one day to sweep the tomb of my father," Lin said on Friday at a press conference on the sidelines of the NPC.

His father died six years ago, but as persona non grata in Taiwan, he was unable to attend the funeral.

Lin is attending the NPC as a deputy, along with his wife, Chen Yunying, a deputy with the Taiwan delegation.

Lin, whose interests are in development economics, and Chen, special education, said despite talk of them being a powerful pair, they are just ordinary people.

"I have changed my grandson's nappies," Lin said.

With the Taiwan election approaching, Lin said Taiwan people must have a clear vision for their future.

With perhaps 30 more years of rapid development on the mainland still to come, Lin urged Taiwan to "catch the fast train".

And he has a lot of ambition for developing economies.

"If you have an apple and I have an apple, even if we exchange them, we still have only one apple each. But if we exchange knowledge and experience, we are both doubly wealthy," he said.

"And that is my mission at the World Bank, as knowledge is the cure for poverty."

(China Daily March 8, 2008)

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