Profile: AIIB’s president candidate, scholarly economist

CJPg0PXUAAEDad6BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhua) — China has formally nominated Jin Liqun, former vice finance minister of China, as its candidate for president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Ministry of Finance announced Monday.

Jin, secretary-general of AIIB interim secretariat and former vice president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has spent the past few months shuttling between countries to convince them to join the bank.

But besides his financial and banking knowledge, Jin has impressed his colleagues with his love of literature, philosophy and English.

When he studied in Nanjing High School of Jiangyin, east China’s Jiangsu Province, from 1965 to 1968, Jin indulged in the third edition of Webster’s New World Dictionary, a rare tome in schools at that time. “It was precious to me, while seldom used by my classmates,” he recalled.

Now, a new edition of the dictionary has pride of place on his desk.

Also in senior high school, he read publications released by the imprint Zephyr Books. “The study was intense, but I took the time to read English books in the library,” Jin Said.

The Cultural Revolution disrupted education and many young people in the city went to the countryside for “reeducation”. Many attempted to continue with their academic pursuits while working the land, but only a few persisted.

Jin was one of them. He lived and worked in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, from 1968 to 1978, and his closest friends during that period were some of the works of Shakespeare given to him by his high school teacher.

Despite fulltime work in the fields, Jin’s hunger for knowledge never tired.

He recalled this time of his life in a China Daily article: “Sometimes those curious, honest villagers would watch me. It seemed that they appreciated my hard effort.”

After 10 years of a hard life in the countryside, Jin became one of the few high school graduates to bypass undergraduate studies, and was enrolled directly on to a postgraduate program majoring in British and American literature at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) in 1978.

His classmate Liu Runqing, now a professor at BFSU, recalls that Jin was the youngest and liveliest students in class.

“I have been engaged in economics and finance,” Jin said. “But a huge part of my books are Chinese classical literature and philosophy.”

After graduating from BFSU, Jin worked for the Ministry of Finance before reading economics at George Washington University and Boston University.

During his time in the U.S., he was impressed by the nation’s passion for reading.

“Almost every passenger on the way was reading a book or newspaper,” Jin recalled, noting that a country whose people love reading would make continuous progress both in soft and hard power.

“Reading needs us to arrange our time reasonably,” Jin said.

The “scholar official” has published several books. He led the translation work of “The House of Morgan” and wrote “Economic Development: Theories and Practices” in collaboration with Nicholas Stern, then chief economist of the European Bank.


Skimming through Jin Liqun’s resume, it can be seen that he has been close to the opening up of China’s financial affairs.

He was once appointed deputy director general of the external finance department at the Ministry of Finance (MOF); the alternative executive director for China at the World Bank; director general of the World Bank department of MOF; and assistant minister progressing to vice minister of MOF.

As one of the first government officials to be involved in international financial affairs since the reform and opening-up of China in 1978, Jin Liqun has actively participated in multilateral cooperation on the global stage.

Jin was responsible for the release of Chinese sovereign bonds, which cost 1 billion U.S. dollars (about 6.2 billion yuan), in 1998. It showcased his persuasive ability, as it was the first sovereign bond issuance in Asia that relied on its own credibility following the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

The MOF vice minister stood out and became the first ADB Chinese vice president in August 2003. He was in charge of the South Asian and Mekong Delta Sector, and granting loans to private departments.

Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation saw great progress during his term of office. He believed that subregional cooperation was an integral part of regional and international cooperation. Building up tighter subregional ties would be a determining factor for more comprehensive international cooperation due to globalization.

He became chairman of the board of supervisors of China Investment Corp. afterward, working with Lou Jiwei, the current MOF Minister. The two played a significant role in running the Sovereign Wealth Fund of the world’s second largest economy with the largest foreign exchange reserve.

He then became chairman of China International Capital Corp. Ltd. (CICC) in 2013, entering investment banking and securities.

From governmental departments to international financial institutes, and from sovereign bonds to the private sector, Jin has experience in almost every essential role in finance.

He is now facing a new challenge and opportunity. President Xi Jinpingproposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) during his visit in Southeast Asia in October 2013. One year later, financial ministers and representatives of the 21 prospective founding members signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Establishing the AIIB. China, India, Singapore, Qatar and Thailand were among them.

In the meantime, Jin started working for AIIB as its the interim secretariat secretary-general. Just two days before the signing of MOU, it was confirmed that he had left CICC.

The AIIB now has 57 prospective founding members, across five continents.

Jin and his colleagues made a huge effort to explain the work of AIIB to countries outside Asia. Jin was one of the great contributors in the expansion of the membership.

The AIIB aims to finance infrastructure in Asia. This is one of Jin’s areas of expertise. During his five years at ADB, his worked to alleviate poverty through economic and social development. He helped boost infrastructure building in South Asia and the Mekong Delta area during his term of office.

This may be, in part, due to the passion Jin has for rural areas. He said that he “never stopped thinking about the farmers” after the Cultural Revolution.

No matter what role he held if a policy was beneficial to rural areas or villagers Jin would take part in promoting and executing it.

When he was working at ADB, every time a road was built in a remote village, or rural homes got electricity, he was filled with joy, he wrote in a China Daily article.

It is this interest in the grassroots that motivated Jin to care about developing countries.

There were two ways that developing countries could participate in economic globalization: To make their economy fit in the needs of globalization through structural adjustment and system building; or let the system reflect the interests and needs of developing countries through active participation in the setting up of international norms to safeguard development opportunities, he said during a high-level meeting of developing countries when he was MOF vice minister in 1999.

“I hope developing countries will no longer be the followers, but the masters of globalization in the 21st century.”


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