The top candidate to run the International Monetary Fund (IMF), French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, said Thursday that her talks with Chinese central bank and finance ministry officials about her candidacy were positive, the state-run China Daily reported.
“I’m confident, I’m very positive about the meetings I’ve had so far. Some governments and some countries have decided to go public early. My sense is that it’s too early to count your chickens if I may say,” Lagarde told a news conference at the French embassy in Beijing.
Lagarde is in the Chinese capital, the latest leg of her world tour to seek support for her IMF candidacy. She is seen as the favourite to replace former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was arrested last month on sexual assault charges.
The French minister also backed a bigger say for China at the fund while making clear that the euro zone crisis would be a priority if she wins the job, but stopped short of claiming Beijing’s outright support, according to the newspaper.
“I’m very positive about my trip to China but the decision does not belong to me. It belongs to the Chinese authorities,” she was quoted as saying.
China has joined other big emerging economies in demanding that the IMF and other international financial institutions give greater heed to their demands. In Beijing, Lagarde indicated she was listening to those demands.
The French minister said she backed the decision to increase China’s voting rights at the IMF from 3.65 percent to 6.4 percent, and also said the organization would help Beijing internationalize its yuan currency.
After her talks with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan on Wednesday, Lagarde hinted that there was room for more reforms at the IMF to give rising economies more say.
The main obstacle in Lagarde’s bid for the top IMF job is the possibility of an inquiry into her role in a 2008 arbitration payout.
Mexico’s central bank chief Agustin Carstens, who is also competing for the IMF job, is due to visit China next week.