When China's finance minister, Wang Bingquian, delivered his government's first address to the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Wednesday, it attracted special interest.
The previous holder of the China seat, the Republic of China (Taiwan), had been a moderate among the developing nations. Would the People's Republic of China be more radical?
Mr. Wang's talk indicated that Communist China will not be upsetting any institutional applecarts. He made the standard reference to "hegemonist aggression and expansion" -- code words for Soviet imperialism.
He did call vaguely for reforms in the current institutions, "to bring about the early establishment of a new, equitable, and rational international monetary system." And he asked that the industrial countries should abolish restrictive trade barriers against the developing countries and increase their foreign aid.
But he also promised that "China will work in friendly collaboration with and seek to learn from the good experience of othe member countries of the IMF and the World Bank, especially in developing countries."
Most of the Mao-suited finance minister's talk was devoted to China's economic situation.
"China's economic development," he said, "experienced ups and downs for many years. The period from 1966 to 1976, in particular, was a decade of chaos, during which our economy suffered grave disruption. After that chaotic situation was brought to an end, stability and unity have prevailed in the country; the economy has been quickly rehabilitated and growth resumed."
He added: "Prospects are bright for China's economic development."
Mr. Wang said that last year China embarked on a program of adjusting major imbalances in the national economy, reforming its system of economic management, consolidating existing enterprises, and improving the level of science, tachnology, and economic management.
"We are going to give the enterprises a greater say in running their own affairs," he said; ". . . we will apply the economic leverage exercised through fixing prices, setting taxes and interest rates, and having recourse to bank credits under the overall guidance of state planning, thereby giving full play to the positive aspects of a market economy."