China on Wednesday sounded doubtful about backing Indian-American business leader Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank, saying it is "open" to supporting "other potential candidates" based on merit. Reports from Washington said 63-year-old Banga, who is nominated by US President Joe Biden to head the Bank, is due to visit China on Wednesday to meet officials of the People's Bank of China to seek Beijing's support for his candidature.
Asked whether China will back Banga, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here that "we have noted the candidate nominated by the US side and are open to other potential candidates". He said the World Bank is the most influential multilateral development institution in the world and is of systemic importance to global poverty reduction and development.
"As a major shareholder of the World Bank, China stands ready to work with all parties for an open, transparent and merit-based presidential selection process," he said and asked the media to competent authorities for more details. Biden last month announced that the US is nominating Banga to lead the World Bank, saying the Indian-American business leader is uniquely equipped to lead the global institution at "this critical moment in history."
If confirmed by the World Bank Board of Directors, Banga would be the first-ever Indian-American and Sikh-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions: International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Banga currently serves as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic. Previously, he was President and CEO of Mastercard, leading the company through a strategic, technological and cultural transformation. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016.
"Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history," President Biden said in a statement. "He has spent more than three decades building and managing successful, global companies that create jobs and bring investment to developing economies, and guiding organisations through periods of fundamental change," Biden said.