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BEIJING/WASHINGTON D.C.: Top officials from China will attend the World Bank and International Monetary Fund spring meetings in Washington this week, their first attendance in person in three years after COVID-19 curbs limited them to virtual participation.

Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China, will attend the meetings this week, accompanied by a deputy-governor, China’s central bank told Reuters. However, the Ministry of Finance did not respond when asked whether finance minister Liu Kun would also travel to Washington this week, as he is expected to do so.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank chief, Jin Liqun, will also make an appearance.

Beijing and Washington, currently embroiled in heightened political tensions over Taiwan, have also been at odds over China’s financing for emerging economies.

Washington has accused Beijing of “dragging its feet” in debt relief talks for cash-strapped nations and China, the world’s largest bilateral creditor, argues that multilateral lenders like the IMF should also take losses in these negotiations.

World Bank, IMF spring meetings to get underway in complex economic environment

Countries such as Zambia, Sri Lanka and Ghana are in the middle of debt restructuring talks that involve lending from Chinese creditors, like China Export-Import Bank.

The IMF and the World bank returned to fully in-person annual meetings last October, after two years where the pandemic forced proceedings online, however China did not attend last year’s meeting in-person due to its strict COVID controls.

Speculation that Chinese finance minister Kun would finally personally meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the G20 meeting of major economies in Bengaluru, India in February came to nothing when Liu joined the meeting via video link.

China was the only country represented by officials from both its central bank and finance ministry at the last IMF debt restructuring roundtable, which took place in February on the sidelines of the G20 meetings.

Yi and Liu stayed away from that particular meeting, with China represented in-person by PBOC vice governor Xuan Chengneng.

Representatives of the China EXIMBANK also joined that meeting and are expected to travel to Washington too, although the bank did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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