BM: Where does the AIIB fit in the larger financial evolution of Chinese financial markets?
JL: I welcome China’s market being more open to the outside, and I think China will continue to be more open because we have more financial talent and know-how. Our country’s leadership wants to open up the Chinese financial markets, but to do so without creating chaos. We have learned from the experience of the U.S. and European countries during the 2008 financial crisis.
BM: When Western and Chinese policymakers exchange ideas and positions, is there something important that gets lost in translation?
JL: For China, I think English writing and communication skills are really important. I think that I will never relax on my efforts to improve communication. We are really lacking in senior-level people in China who can communicate effectively with the outside. I think it’s important to have a real understanding of other cultures. That’s why I try very hard to communicate with the people in Western countries. I don’t want to have a war of words. I want a reasonable discussion.
孩提时代，我在阁楼偶然发现一些英文书籍。我依稀记得，那些是硬皮书，其中一本是《伊索寓言》(Aesop’s Fables)。还有一些期刊，例如上世纪40年代出版的《读者文摘》(Reader’s Digest)。
BM: Could you tell us something about your family?
JL: I was born into a family that had seen better days before World War II. My great-grandfather on my paternal side was a scholar who gave lectures in a local traditional school. As his parents died early, my grandfather left home as a young man, trying to make a living on his own in Shanghai and in neighboring cities.
He was a self-made engineer enjoying a very high income. But he did not think much of money, and his dream was that the family should return to its old glory days, with his offspring brought up as men of letters. He could afford to provide my father with a good education, even hiring for him a private English tutor.
Things all changed when the Sino-Japanese War destroyed virtually everything and their financial situation deteriorated quickly. But the traditional love for learning carried on. My parents’ hobby was reading, and we followed suit.
While still a kid, I happened to find some English books in the attic. From my vague memory I recall them being hard-covered books, and one was Aesop’s Fables. There were also some periodicals, such as Reader’s Digest, published in the 1940s.
My interest in the English language and literature was aroused and was quickly reinforced when I was introduced to the English-language course as a fifth-grader in elementary school. It was hard to believe that elementary school offered an English-language course in the 1950s, but that did happen.
我读的都是经典作品（主要是小说和诗歌），因为我无法获得英语世界里当代作家的作品。现在的年轻学生应该都不熟悉那些作者。诸如查尔斯·兰姆(Charles Lamb)、玛丽·兰姆(Mary Lamb)、威廉·哈兹利特(William Hazlitt)、约瑟夫·艾迪生(Joseph Addison)和理查德·斯蒂尔(Richard Steele)等伟大散文家的散文，都令我着迷。我现在仍会翻阅莎士比亚、约翰·弥尔顿(John Milton)和乔叟(Chaucer)的作品。
至于太平洋彼岸的作家中，我喜欢华盛顿·欧文(Washington Irving)、拉尔夫·沃尔多·埃默森(Ralph Waldo Emerson)和纳撒尼尔·霍桑(Nathaniel Hawthorne)。我钻进了这些作者的作品，全都是原版作品。
BM: And, not surprisingly, your initial career ambition was to become an English professor.
JL: As a high school student in the early 1960s, I started to work very hard on the English classics. Summer and winter vacations were the best seasons for me to concentrate on my books without having to bother about some other subjects at school.
I struggled with classics—mostly fiction and poetry—as I had no access to works of contemporary writers in the English- speaking world. I read authors who would sound unfamiliar to the young students today. I was fascinated with the prose of great essayists, such as Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb, William Hazlitt, Joseph Addison, and Richard Steele. I still flip through the pages of the works of Shakespeare, John Milton, and Chaucer.
As for authors across the Pacific Ocean, I loved Washington Irving, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. I worked on these authors, all in the original.
My efforts never discontinued—even during the Cultural Revolution or while working on the farm. What I learned in rural China in the ’60s and ’70s, however, is not English and American literature. Rural life is not fiction—it is reality. The experience of those years has shaped, to a great extent, my mental world and nourished my sense and sensibility to the mission of development.
BM: How so?
JL: My daily contact with the villagers helped me understand their dreams and aspirations for themselves and their children and their children’s children. The pattern of their life cycles has repeated itself generation after generation without much variance. A big breakthrough would be if one of their kids would go to college and get an urban job with a higher income and social security. As the saying goes, a golden phoenix has flown out of the poor village.
Our village was connected to the electric power grid only in the early 1970s. A two-storied farmhouse with electricity and running water, a flushing toilet, a telephone, and storage of sufficient grains and other foodstuff was what they had been dreaming about. Their dream was still considered something very remote, if not a wild fantasy, during the ’60s and ’70s when I was over there.
BM: How did the Cultural Revolution and your time in rural China shape you?
JL: All this toughness belied the rural attractiveness for me. The redeeming feature of this life is that I could have some spare time reading without disturbance in my thatched cottage, especially in slack seasons.
The villagers could make neither head nor tail of my pursuance. But they were such nice people and never bothered me. Perhaps they wondered whether I had my head screwed on the right way.
I was outfitted with a worn-out Remington typewriter and a copy of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged—both purchased secondhand—plus a number of English books. These books had come into my possession at a small cost, having miraculously survived the bonfires of the Cultural Revolution.
Decades later, some people thought that this crazy young guy, as D.H. Lawrence would say, “had a strange prescience, an intimation of something yet to come.” That I flatly deny. I had no foresight, no vision. What I had is nothing but passion—passion for learning, for hard work.
BM: So how did a lover of English literature end up in banking?
JL: In 1978, I was enrolled as a postgraduate student on a national competitive basis and thus could go on to pursue full time my English and American literature studies under the supervision of one of the most renowned professors at the Beijing Institute of Foreign Languages, now Beijing Foreign Studies University.
As a graduate student, I was already a staffer on the editorial team of a new magazine, Foreign Literature. My papers on William Faulkner’s fiction were published in the first-class academic journal in China, and they were to secure my job in my alma mater’s faculty right upon graduation.
An academic life that I had so coveted was just beginning to unfold when I was urged to join the Ministry of Finance.
I was not aware that President [Robert] McNamara of the World Bank met Deng Xiaoping in Beijing in 1980. The PRC [People’s Republic of China] government took over Taiwan’s representation at the IMF and the World Bank, and it was imperative to have some senior government officials posted to the executive director’s office in the World Bank, for which the Ministry of Finance was the lead agency. Young staff were desperately needed for that purpose.
My academic supervisor, Professor Xu Guozhang, said to me, “I’m sure that about 200 professors of English literature would suffice for China. But there is an imminent and acute shortage of professionals in the economics and finance field, particularly those who are at home with English. You can shift to economics for a good reason.” Seeing I was bewildered, he assured me that should I find it difficult to be in my element after such a shift, I would always be welcome back.
金立群：在部里的鼓励下，我申请了由美国新闻署(U.S. Information Agency)资助的Hubert Humphrey奖学金项目，并于1987-88年被选中并派到波士顿大学经济系担任Humphrey研究员。这个项目一结束，我就回到世行担任副执行董事，任期四年。
BM: Your rise up through the Chinese bureaucracy also took you to the U.S., right?
JL: I was encouraged by the ministry to apply to the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency, and I was selected and assigned to the economics department of Boston University as a Humphrey fellow in 1987-88. Immediately upon completion of the program, I went back to the World Bank as the alternate executive director to serve a four-year term.
And from 2003 through 2008, I served as vice president for operations in the Asian Development Bank and delved into a host of development issues confronting both the developed and developing countries.
My five years of service [from 2008 to 2013] as chairman of the board at China Investment Corp., China’s sovereign wealth fund, gave me the opportunity to manage a company, albeit a quasi-SOE [state-owned enterprise]. And serving as chairman of China International Capital Corp. Ltd. [from May 2013 to October 2014] provided me with a different perspective, as I could deal with the managerial challenges faced by a private company.
BM: Getting back to your current job, what can you tell us about the AIIB’s loan portfolio and projects?
JL: First of all, by agreement we cover infrastructure and private-sector projects. So right now, much of our loan portfolio is focused on power, energy, and transportation.
India is the biggest borrower at this stage. This is a country with strong capabilities and big needs. In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, there is an acute shortage of power. In Myanmar, where we are involved in the development of gas-firing power plants, two-thirds of the people have no access to electricity.
So this is an area of focus, as is transportation. I would highlight our work supporting, say, a mass transit system like a Mumbai or Bangalore subway. It’s so important. You don’t want to encourage everyone to drive to work in congested urban centers. You encourage them to take mass transit. This is another approach to dealing with climate change.
BM: Have you set your sights beyond Asia?
JL: We’ve done our first project in a non-Asian country: Egypt [where the AIIB is providing up to $210 million for a renewable-energy project involving 11 greenfield solar power plants]. Oman has an idea to move away from excessive dependence on fossil fuels. They want to develop a port and alternative sources of energy. We helped Oman to develop broadband so they would have better access to modern telecommunication service. I think it’s so important to help middle-income countries in the Gulf area to be prepared for a low-carbon global economy.
In the future, probably—if we are successful over the next few decades—gas might be the raw material for chemical fertilizer, and the oil could be the material for chemical products rather than being burned. The transition might be very abrupt.
I met the new finance minister of Saudi Arabia in Davos, and he is very much interested in working with us. I think in Gulf countries, railway development is important. It can reduce the cost of transportation.
未完待续。To be continued.
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