China is leading an effort to water down the World Bank's most popular research report in a test of the development institution's new president, Jim Yong Kim.
According to people close to the matter, China wants to eliminate the ranking of countries in the Doing Business report, which compares business regulations – such as the difficulty of starting a company – in 185 different nations.
The row is an example of China's growing assertiveness at international bodies and its increased willingness to challenge liberal economic prescriptions. In this year's Doing Business report, China ranked 91st out of 185 economies with especially low scores for its construction bureaucracy and tax system.
Pushed by China and other critics – including trade unions, international aid charities and some other developing countries – last year Mr. Kim set up an independent review of the report chaired by Trevor Manuel, South Africa's planning minister.
But a number of people involved in the process complain that Mr. Manuel has appointed two longstanding critics of the report as advisers to the panel, raising doubts about its impartiality.
Peter Bakvis of the International Trade Union Confederation and Jeffrey Owens, former head of tax at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, have both attended the panel's meetings.