Washington - The World Bank said on Saturday its lending to China has fallen sharply and will continue to be pared back, after US President Donald Trump demanded it stop altogether.
“Why is the World Bank loaning money to China? Can this be possible? China has plenty of money, and if they don’t, they create it. STOP!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday.
The bank, which is led by former US Treasury official David Malpass, defended its approach in a brief statement.
“World Bank lending to China has fallen sharply and will continue to reduce as part of our agreement with all our shareholders including the United States.”
“We eliminate lending as countries get richer,” it said.
Trump was reiterating a position long held by his administration, including Malpass prior to his election as the current head of the World Bank.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told US lawmakers on Thursday that the United States “has objected” to the institution’s multi-year program of loans and projects in China.
That program, which includes plans to reduce lending to China, was adopted on Thursday.
The program “reflects the evolution of our relationship with China,” Martin Raiser, World Bank Country Director for China, said on Thursday. “Our engagement will be increasingly selective.”
Trump’s very public stance comes amid negotiations between Washington and Beijing seeking to end the US president’s 18-month-long trade war, which is aimed at forcing China to make concessions on protecting American businesses and reducing its trade surplus.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about the date of a possible partial agreement, which Trump said was imminent in October.