China has outmanoeuvred India and got its man into a key position at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila. This little episode shows how India needs a far better lobbying strategy for key appointments in global multilateral bodies such as ADB.
Asia’s two rising powers have been on the same side of the bargaining table during the recent negotiations on climate change and free trade, because their interests were aligned against those of the rich nations. But there will also be situations when their interests are not aligned and could even be at loggerheads.
One such situation was the appointment of a new vice-president (operations) of ADB. The incumbent was Ligun Jin, a Chinese. The Indian government tried hard to get an Indian into the job and proposed several names. The Chinese, too, tried to push one of their candidates — and won. Zhao Xiaoyu is now the new ADB vice-president.
Of course, this is just one job in one organization. But such instances will increase in the future. Both countries believe — and rightly so — that rising economic clout should get them a place at the high table of global affairs. That includes ensuring that enough Indians and Chinese have influential jobs at global institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization.
These global institutions are currently run in a deeply undemocratic manner, and dominated by the victors of the World War II. For example, a European always runs the World Bank and an American is at the helm of IMF. That is changing.
The board of directors of IMF has already given its support to what it calls “voice and quota reforms” — which essentially means that countries with rising economic clout will contribute more to IMF’s capital and have a greater say in how it is run.
The next decade or so would then likely see jostling by both India and China to grab some of the senior jobs at these institutions. The ADB setback should be understood in this context. India needs a strategy here. The one big question is whether it should compete or collaborate with China to get what it wants.
Should India insist on more of its citizens getting key posts at global institutions? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org