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Ruble Swap Shows China Challenging IMF as Emergency Lender

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China is stepping up its role as the lender of last resort to some of the world’s most financially strapped countries.

Chinese officials signaled on the weekend they are willing to expand a $24 billion currency swap program to help Russia weather the worst economic crisis since the 1998 default. China has provided $2.3 billion in funds to Argentina since October as part of a currency swap, and last month it lent $4 billion to Venezuela, whose reserves cover just two years of debt payments.