Updated: 2005-10-17 10:20
Tanscripts of Paul Wolfowitz's
Interview with Xu Binglan, China Daily
XBL: So let's just go in this order…What's-I know you have
been to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi'an during your previous trips to
China. Have you been-did you see any poor places?
PW: Yeah, I saw Beijing. Beijing was horribly poor in 1983.
XBL: 83, yes.
PW: And I was in Guangzhou and Shenzhen in 84….
Yeah, I've been to poor parts of China. I went to Beijing in '83 when it was
very poor and in Shenzhen and Guangzhou in 84 when they were poor. And that's a
part of what's so stunning is that…these places came from really terrible
conditions and makes one hopeful, I think, about even poor areas like
Gansu-although Gansu obviously has challenges of an entirely different kind
XBL: So actually before the trip did you already know the
vast difference between the developed-like the coastal areas-and the poor areas?
PW: And I'm very impressed by it, yeah.
XBL: And what strikes you most during this trip so far?
PW: I guess it is about Gansu specifically, how remote it
is. How challenging the local conditions are. How difficult it is to think of
giving people really successful livelihoods in those conditions. But on the
other hand, in spite of that, I think real progress has been made in the last 15
years. And you know if you increase people's income from $200 a year to $800 a
year. $800 may not sound like very much but it is a huge difference for them.
XBL: Yes, and among the projects we visited, which one is
the most impressive to you?
PW: I think it was actually the…I can't remember the name
of…well, no, there were two. There were two. One that was just very impressive
but maybe it was in the same locale. I guess they were in the same place…where
the hillside had been restored…reclaimed.
XBL: the Loess…
PW: The Loess project. And I think it was the same area
where we visited the village that had done participatory development project and
what was impressive to me there was the real sense of the enormous hard work and
commitment by the people and a kind of optimism-psychological attitude. It did
seem to go beyond the fact that their lives were materially better.
XBL: And I'm coming to the strategy thing. What's China's
position on your map? On your strategy as a new president of the World Bank?
PW: I think my first priority and the Bank's first priority
has to be Sub-Saharan Africa where the need for the bank is enormous and where,
I think, there's an opportunity to help at least some countries in that area
achieve a turn around. And I think it is important for the whole world that
Africa not be left behind in this progress.
In some ways as a broad second priority, the so-called "middle income"
countries-I say so called because that's the phrase used to describe them…I
think it is an accurate phrase-China, India, Brazil and Mexico are very
important partly because of their size, partly because their…they have very
important lessons to teach the rest of the developing world and partly because
they are in the process of becoming major donors in effect in the World Bank. I
don't know what point that actually happens. I wouldn't say that the United
States is per se on my priority list. On the other hand, the United States is
very important to me, very important to me and the Bank. And China is beginning
to have both of those…both as being a successful recipient but also in an
increasingly influential role.
XBL: China is changing very fast so would you seek to change
according to the changes in this country-change how you work in China?
PW: I think we will change and I think we have to. We're
certainly changing the terms of our assistance from largely concessional lending
to almost entirely non-concessional lending and we're very focused on how to
take knowledge from China and how to bring it to the rest of the world. And plus
the fact that we're a much smaller factor in China than we were 10 or 15 years
ago. That's a product of success obviously. I say, finally, there's an aspect of
what we're trying to work on, which is how to help the whole world figure out
better ways of meeting the enormous energy demands of the whole world and China
is a big part of that picture.
XBL: Actually you mentioned the Chinese astronauts during
the speech in Lanzhou University. I was wondering, does that bother you? A still
poor country use a huge sum of money to do a space program. Does that bother
PW: Well, it doesn't bother me. I don't…I think in the first
place that's for Chinese people to decide. But you know when I was in Indonesia
20 years ago, the Indonesians had qualified one woman to go up on the American
space shuttle and it was interesting to me what an inspiration that was to young
Indonesians that their county could be in the forefront of things and that… I
think, you have to think of development as a requiring a degree of balance and,
you know, for the World Bank-and we're appropriately put our priority on primary
education but you can't just have a country of people with six grade graduates,
you need college graduates, you need university researchers. You need, I think,
balanced growth. I think the inspiration of a space program is very reasonably
part of that. It was interesting, I think you could see, from the reaction of
the audience today it seems to be the way those students feel.
XBL: Exactly, yeah, okay…Talking about the students: What's
your impression of the Chinese students. I heard, from my India colleague, that
they asked quite a few very harsh questions when you were in India. Chinese
students seemed more-how to say?-
welcome and disciplined. Did you see that?
PW: I didn't speak to a university audience in India. I wish
I had, in retrospect. I think it is probably true in general, that in India you
get somewhat tougher questions generally. I don't know if I can think of
different reasons. But I think they were good questions today. I think what
struck me about the Chinese students was their energy and their enthusiasm
and…and how many of them really seemed to want to make a positive difference for
their country and for the world.
XBL: Yeah. And you also talked about…one of them asked about
if China is a threat...could be seen as threat as it developed and you actually,
I read from some reports, that there was actually constant comparisons between
China-today's China-and Germany and Japan in the old times.
PW: I have to be careful. I've talked about this but not to
say that China is like Germany or Japan, but to say that China's emergence in a
relatively short period of time as a major influence in the world is, in terms
of the speed at which it happened, comparable to the speed to which Germany and
Japan emerged. And I think it is very important to make sure that the experience
is very different. And I believe it will be very different but I think China's
influence is going to grow and I think that it is very important to use that
China uses that influence in a constructive and positive way. And I have every
reason to think that they will.
XBL: When I…
PW: Can I say something? By the way, if the young students
that I met in Lanzhou University get to vote on the matter, I am absolutely
certain that China will use its influence in a constructive and positive way.
That's the thing that really is so striking about the attitudes of the
students…is how open and positive and idealistic they are.
XBL: When I read some media reports they quoted you as
saying that the history of Germany and Japan should not necessarily be repeated.
Did you say that?
It shouldn't be. It mustn't
be and I don't think it will be. I think it is important for people to realize
that the changes underway in the world and…
It's not only China by the way… India is growing enormously. Some so-called
smaller countries-I mean Korea and Vietnam would be big countries if they were
in Europe. Brazil is growing. So there's a…it's very important to adjust
international relationships in a way that allows for that growing influence.
XBL: You really mean that it couldn't be repeated?
PW: Couldn't is too strong a word. I think it won't be
repeated if people do the right things.
XBL: Okay good. Thank you. And…this is a bit of a long
question: Many believe that democracy should come with development. You yourself
have been a strong advocate for democracy. In terms of China's development,
which is partly financed and supported by the Bank, would you think, in this
way: "Oh we suppose this county should have been democratic with this
development." Would you think this way?
PW: Well, first of all, I think Chinese society is becoming
more open and I've heard during the course of this visit that they now are
electing officials at a local level in a way that wasn't done before. I think
that is a good step forward. And, I think, development tends to bring with it
more open politics and more democratic politics. But it is not a rigid,
predictable linkage and in each country it is somewhat different. I do remember
in the early 1980s and people were criticizing South Korea because it was
definitely not a democracy at that time. But I think the economic development of
South Korea certainly contributed to its political development.
My job at the World Bank is to work on the economic side and I feel very good
about doing that. I think its valuable in and of itself and I think it also
tends to bring positive results in other areas.
XBL: I read a lot of media reports about your comments…in
one of them, it quoted you were as saying you will not use…I do not remember
exactly…but something like you will not use World Bank to promote democracy. And
in one other report, you were quoted saying that the World Bank should not go
out of its way to avoid politics. But actually it is not contradictory…did you
PW: Well, I probably said a few things. But it is a
complicated subject and it is honestly a little hard to have it exactly
straight. The mission of the World Bank is to reduce poverty and to promote
economic development and that's really what I want to stress-and I do think
sometimes…there are issues that support economic development that some people
might say are political. For example, I think people might say that a free press
which contributes to accountability by government-I think accountability of
governments is a very important part of development-so in that broad way, I
think, we have to think about development in a broader context. But when it come
back to the test of whether we're doing our job or not it's whether we're
promoting economic development not whether we're promoting democracy.
XBL: Yeah okay. Coming to this new job. You seem to love
your new job very much. You've been working very enthusiastically since you took
office. And you do seem very caring to those people in poverty. How would you
compare this image with the so-called "hawkish" image in the past years? Sorry
PW: No, no it's okay. People asked me it all the time. First
of all, as I said to the students, I don't believe you should take a job if
you're not going to like it-or love it even-it's a large part of your life and
you need to do it because you love it. And I feel very strong about the value of
helping poor people achieve a better future for themselves and for their
children. And it feels very good if you can do that.
You know, I feel very good about contributions I was able to make in several
different jobs in the US Defense Department. If you stop and think about it-by
the way, I was involved in 1992 in the decision to send US troops to Somalia,
which I think saved 250 000 people from starving to death. I'm very proud of the
role the US military played in relief operation in Indonesia and elsewhere in
the Tsunami earlier this year. If you think about it, I counted up…and if I can
include the Tsunami which was in Indonesian and at least predominantly Muslim,
[it was] eight times when the US military has acted to the benefit of large
Muslim populations in Somalia and in Kuwait, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Northern
Iraq after the Gulf War. And, of course, in some ways most impressively, there
are 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been freed from genocidal
tyrants by the action of the US military.
So I don't feel that there is this…I mean, the names are different and the
issues are different. And in some ways it is much easier to work on economic
development because economic development is much more of a unifying mission. But
the truth is, I have always felt that it is both personally rewarding, and I
think, ultimately, in the interest of my own country to see other people in the
world free to choose their own futures and free from poverty.
XBL: So what you are saying is that work you've been doing
either as the Deputy Secretary for Defense or as the President of the World Bank
have been consistent?
PW: I think it is. And if people took a little time to
understand it, I think they might see that the same way.
XBL: What mood would you be in when you get updated by the
media or your former colleagues about America's security issues like the new
developments in Iraq? Would you be like, oh…that life as a Deputy Secretary for
Defense is really something far far away or do you feel somewhat attached to it?
PW: Well, of course the World Bank is in deeply involved in
both Afghanistan and Iraq so its not as though those are issues I have to go to
my old colleagues to be briefed on. The military aspects, obviously, are not my
concern any longer professionally. Nor in fact are the political developments. I
must that I've been reading about the latest compromises about the Iraqi
constitution and I-just as a private citizen-I find it fascinating that
democracy seems to work and that when people have a chance to vote on things, it
seems to push them to compromise. At least I hope that's the correct reading of
what just taken place in Iraq.
XBL: Thank you so much, Mr. President.