Officials take to global stage as China's influence grows

More Chinese taking leading positions at international organisations will bring China's expertise to global development and enhance the country's reputation in world affairs, observers said.

Zhao Baige, vice-president of the Chinese Red Cross, was elected vice-president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, Hao Ping, China's vice-minister for education and representative to the UNESCO executive board, was elected chairman of the 37th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation for a two-year term.

In addition, four other Chinese officials also took charge of various international organisations this year.

China's Vice-Minister of Finance Li Yong became director-general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation in June. Yi Xiaozhun, China's permanent representative to the World Trade Organisation, was appointed as deputy director-general of the WTO in August. And Zhang Xiaogang, general manager of Anshan Iron and Steel, became president of the International Organisation for Standardization in September.

In August, Xu Haoliang, who joined the United Nations as an intern, was appointed assistant secretary-general of the United Nations.

From 2003 to 2013, a total of 15 Chinese officials gained leading positions at international organisations.

Zhou Xinyu, a researcher at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the growing number of Chinese taking senior positions at international agencies is a result of China's growing strength and global influence.

"The world is looking forward to China's voice in international affairs and also trusts China as a responsible state facing global challenges," Zhou said.

He said China is becoming a major power and the world needs China's participation in solving international issues.

"It has also resulted from China's social development. China's society is now closely connected with the world, Chinese are getting more familiar with international mechanisms and rules and are more competitive in personal skills," he added.

As the largest developing economy, China's involvement in the international community will also benefit all developing countries, said Dong Manyuan, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies.

"China will seek more rights for developing states, especially the equal right of development. China will protect Third World countries through its enlarging international influence," he said.

Reviewing the profiles of these Chinese officials, it is not difficult to find their common advantages: a good educational background, years of work experience and skills in communicating with international organisations.

Wu Jianmin, vice-chairman of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, said these Chinese officials will bring their experience and culture, such as the pursuit of balance and harmony, into their respective organisations.

Wu, former Chinese ambassador to France, became honorary president of the International Exhibitions Bureau in 2003. He is also the first person from a developing economy to hold the position.

China surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest economy in 2010. China's experience in economic development is considered valuable to other economies.

But according to a recent report released by the United Nations, as of the end of June, there were only 74 Chinese working in the United Nations Secretariat, making China one of the underrepresented countries.

Wang Yizhou, deputy dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, said although more Chinese are taking key positions at international organisations, China's participation still lags behind western countries and even India and the Republic of Korea.

"It's a great honour for China to have its citizens undertaking important responsibilities at international organisations, but it's only a start. China did make progress in participating in global governance, but there is still a lot to be done."

As the sixth-largest United Nations contributor, China will play a more important role in global governance, Wang said.

"It's both an opportunity and a challenge for us."

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