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Congress seeks answers from World Bank over hiring rules for Taiwan nationals

World Bank President David Malpass.
World Bank President David Malpass. Photo: Indraneel Chowdhury/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Congress asked the World Bank to clarify its hiring practices, following an Axios report in December that revealed the international financial institution told staff, contractors and consultants from Taiwan to present Chinese travel documents to maintain or pursue employment.

What's new: Bipartisan leadership on the Foreign Affairs Committees in both chambers sent a letter to World Bank President David Malpass on Jan. 7, citing concern that the rule could be considered "discrimination based on nationality," which would be inconsistent with the World Bank Group's Code of Conduct and Articles of Agreement.

  • Signatories included House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

Where it stands: The World Bank revised its rule to represent a compromise in December, stating it gives hiring preference to people from member states, but does not ban hiring those from non-member states.

  • Taiwan isn't a member state, but Taiwanese nationals have historically worked at the World Bank.
  • The new rule added that: "The Bank Group's recruitment policy is to hire staff of the highest caliber, on as wide a geographical basis as possible, with preference to nationals of WBG [World Bank Group] member countries or countries of operations."

Why it matters: Taiwan is self-governed, but China maintains the island is part of its sovereign territory. China has long sought to squeeze Taiwan from multilateral institutions, and Taiwanese people from the international community.

Read the letter:

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