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World Bank names Justin Lin Yifu chief economist

WASHINGTON -- The World Bank Monday named Justin Lin Yifu, who defected from Taiwan and rose to become a top economic strategist for communist China, as its chief economist — the first time a Chinese has held the job.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Lin, the founding director of the China Center for Economic Research (CCER) at Peking University, would bring to the bank the perspective of a developing country on agriculture issues, as well as on economic challenges in Africa, where China has aggressively sought trade and investment opportunities.

“As our first chief economist from a developing country, and an expert on economic development and particularly agriculture, Justin Lin brings a unique set of skills and experience to the World Bank Group,” Zoellick said in a statement announcing the appointment.

“I look forward to working closely with him on a number of areas, including growth and investment in Africa, opportunities for South-South learning (between developing countries) and bank instruments to better support countries hit by high energy and agriculture prices,” he said.

“China’s experiences can help the World Bank shore up its leading role in global poverty reduction,” Lin told Chinese news agency Xinhua after the announcement was made.

Lin, 55, is expected to take his positions as the global development lender’s senior vice president for development economics and chief economist on May 31. He replaces Francois Bourguignon, who retired as the World Bank’s chief economist last year.

Lin, who graduated from Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, earned his MA at Peking University in 1982 and then a doctorate in economics from the conservative University of Chicago in 1986.

He has had a key role in China’s economic modernization.

The economist has done extensive research into fiscal decentralization, reform of state businesses, rice farm economics and general farm sector reform and modernization, according to his CCER biography.

Born in Taiwan in 1952, Lin took an economics degree at National Chengchi University and was then sent to Jinmen (Kinmen) island just off the Chinese mainland during his military service.

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World Bank names Justin Lin Yifu chief economist
Professor Justin Lin Yifu is seen in this file photo taken in China. (CNA)

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