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World Bank Head Praises China's Economic Steps

The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, is praising China for so far taking the right steps in helping stabilize its own economy amidst the global financial crisis. However, he warns that there are many tough economic problems that will need to be addressed in the year ahead.

Zoellick is in Beijing for three days of meetings with Chinese leaders, to listen to their plans for dealing with the global economic downturn.

He says China has been helping the world by helping itself.

"I think the best way China can help support the world economy
this time is through the efforts China has taken to strengthen
its own growth and recovery," Zoellick said.

China last month announced a nearly $600 billion stimulus
program that will be spent on infrastructure, tax cuts,
subsidies for consumers in rural areas and social security

Zoellick Foresees Economic Hardships in 2009

Zoellick praised the Chinese plan. But, in his first day of meetings in Beijing Monday, he said there was general agreement that 2009 would be, in his words, a "very difficult year."

"It involves considerable uncertainty. So, while countries can take actions today, they need to be flexible in the future as well," said Zoellick.

The World Bank chief also noted that some of the greatest dangers he sees in the next year include ineffective credit systems and increasing hardships for the world's poorest countries. He adds that as countries face rising unemployment, protectionism is an increasing possibility.

Zoellick said he is pleased Chinese officials emphasized to him that international cooperation is key to restoring global confidence.

$710 Million for Beichuan Earthquake Recovery

The World Bank leader came to Beijing after touring Beichuan, the city in southwestern Sichuan province near the center of a massive earthquake in May that killed more than 68,000 people.

He announced that the World Bank is in the process of approving a $710 million loan to help support a program for earthquake recovery.

Zoellick is expected to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Central Bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan during two more days of meetings in China.