What does China get from being a member of the IMF? They don't have a lot of voting power so it's unlikely that they can use their voting powers to do anything since the U.S. has the most voting power and European countries are likely to vote in the same way as the United States. Is there any advantage China might be getting from financing the IMF to get voting powers within the IMF, because to me it's like a waste of money and serves pretty much no purpose.

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    For its political standing in the world.
    – r13
    Oct 2, 2022 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


They get additional prestige from the yuan being part of the IMF's SDR basket, since 2016. As Chinese hopes may be that their currency would displace or at least supplant the USD at some point in the future, this may be an important stepping stone, at least psychologically, if not for themselves, at least for some of the (international) audience.

They also have and had some IMF deputy directors (Bo Li, Min Zhu), so that probably counts too in terms of prestige, although surely less than if they got to run the IMF for a while.

Additionally, some IMF decisions need a large consensus/supermajority of 85% of the shares. Having around 6% of the shares (around 2020), China and a few allies could at least block some IMF decisions that it may see as too detrimental to its interests. And likewise, being on the inside makes lobbying for IMF help to some of its satellite countries (e.g. even for Pakistan) easier.

Plus, the IMF charter essentially says that the shares need to be adjusted in accordance with GDP share in the world economy. So that means that China's shares in theory should increase over time, automatically giving it more influence at the IMF, and reducing that of the US. In this regard, China in particular grumbled in 2019 when Trump's administration blocked a further share increase for China, because that may ultimately threaten the veto vote that the US currently enjoys with its 16.5% share.


Not being part of this exclusive club could be seen as China being not well connected or not interested in cooperation. Being a member buys them influence (even though it may only be small) and a bargaining chip, where they could threaten to withdraw from the IMF.

As regarding to waste of money: lots of money is wasted everywhere in the world. China also wastes money in other circumstances ("Zero Covid policy for example") and has trillions of US-dollar reserves, so probably can afford that.

All in all I think that China values being present in the IMF and playing a role in the international financial system more than not being part and not playing a role, even though maybe they would like to play a bigger/different role. Surely international trade and international finances are very important for China, in the past they exported lots of industrial products and got lots of foreign money in return. This treasure needs to be guarded as much as possible. Being well connected is one way to achieve that.

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