French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde met with top Chinese economic policy makers, but Beijing offered no indication whether it was ready to back her bid to lead the International Monetary Fund.
Ms. Lagarde is on a tour of developing nations, seeking to secure their backing in her bid to lead the organization, which has faced criticism for the tradition that its head is always a European. Before traveling to China on Wednesday, she was welcomed by officials in India and Brazil, who also declined to explicitly back her candidacy.
With a Friday deadline looming to declare candidacy, the other actively campaigning candidate is Mexican central bank Gov. Agustin Carstens, who embarks on his own tour of Asia this week.
In a packed agenda Wednesday, Ms. Lagarde had lunch with Chinese central bank Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan, met with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Qishan in the afternoon, and was scheduled to have dinner with Finance Minister Xie Xuren, according to a French Embassy official.
The French government spokesman said last month that Ms. Lagarde's bid had China's backing, but Beijing hasn't endorsed anyone publicly, and on Wednesday officials here remained noncommittal.
Mr. Yang said after his meeting with Ms. Lagarde that he had 'listened carefully' as she 'explained to me the purpose of her candidacy,' said a second French Embassy official. 'It's an open field now. There are quite a few people campaigning,' Mr. Yang said, according to the official.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Ms. Lagarde as telling Vice Premier Wang: 'I am here not to officially ask for China's backing, but I hope to introduce my bid. China is very important for the IMF.'
Xinhua, citing a news release from Mr. Wang's office, said the two 'exchanged views' on issues including the coming Group of 20 summit in Cannes, France, and the reform of international financial organizations and global 'economic norms and standards.' Xinhua didn't elaborate.
Ms. Lagarde has emerged as a front-runner to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- who awaits trial in New York on rape charges, which he denies -- as managing director of the IMF after securing the backing of several European nations, whose voting power at the institution still is disproportionate to their economic weight.
'While the arithmetic of votes is strongly in her favor, winning the support of the key emerging markets could be important for Lagarde's legitimacy and effectiveness as managing director of the fund,' said Eswar Prasad, a former economist at the IMF who is now at Cornell University.
China wasn't expected to endorse Ms. Lagarde immediately upon her visit, and it is still quite possible Beijing will back her. Chinese officials have said only that the selection should be based on 'fairness, transparency, and merit,' and that the IMF's senior management should better represent emerging markets.
新华社援引王岐山办公室发出的新闻稿说，两人对诸多问题“交换了看法”，包括即将在法国戛纳举办的20国集团(Group of 20)峰会和国际金融组织与全球经济规范和标准的改革等。新华社没有展开详细报道。
拉嘉德现已成为接替多米尼克•斯特劳斯-卡恩(Dominique Strauss- Kahn)、担任IMF总裁的热门人选，后者否认对自己提出的强奸等指控，目前在纽约候审。拉嘉德已获得了几个欧洲国家的支持，这些国家拥有的IMF投票权与其经济实力并不成比例。
IMF前经济学家、现任职于康奈尔大学(Cornell University)的普拉萨德(Eswar Prasad)说，虽然从票数角度看，对拉嘉德极为有利，但赢得重点新兴市场的支持可能对拉嘉德担任IMF总裁的合法性和有效性来说非常重要。