June 9th, 2011
08:31 PM GMT
Beijing, China (CNN) – If French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde enchanted top Chinese officials the way she charmed reporters in Beijing, she has a good chance at winning China's support for her bid to run the IMF.
At the French ambassador's residence, Lagarde flashed her winning smile and had the entire press corps in laughter with her witty comebacks and easy confidence.
"Thank you for the very straight question," she joked to a Chinese reporter as the room broke out in chuckles.
Lagarde came here for two days to talk to China's top brass - hoping to drum up support to become managing director of the International Monetary Fund after Dominique Strauss-Kahn unceremoniously resigned in the wake of a sex scandal.
China was the latest stop on her global tour to reach out to developing countries.
Emerging nations have long complained that the world lending body has been dominated by Europeans.
They want more representation and see the vacancy at the top as a possible way to exert greater influence over the institution and the world economy.
Lagarde tried to ease some of those concerns with her visits to Brazil, India, and China though she failed to get official public backing from any of those nations.
Before her name came up as a candidate, one economist told me the worst possible scenario would be for the job to go to a French person because it would send a message that the selection process is not transparent.
I asked Lagarde about this impression after the briefing as she walked passed me out the room.
She grabbed my hand warmly and said: "I am an international person." An international person who earlier had told us she stood for "inclusiveness" and "diversity."
Mexico's central bank governor Agustin Carstens is her main rival in the IMF race. He is set to make nearly the same rounds in Beijing and meet the press on June 16. Wonder if he will be just as engaging with reporters and the Chinese.
Follow Eunice Yoon on Twitter: @eyoonCNN
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