China is expected to ask for "substantial" increases over the next few years in its loans from the World Bank, according to bank officials here for the opening of the international lending institution's first office in China.

China joined the bank five years ago, and has been borrowing more than $1 billion a year, making it the third-largest borrower from the bank and its affiliates after India and Brazil.

The bank has been China's largest source of foreign capital.

A bank official said he and his colleagues had evidence the Chinese agreed with many of the conclusions contained in a new World Bank report that analyzes development issues confronting China, and describes Peking's options.

The report suggests that China give greater encouragement to direct foreign investment, but it also says the number of administrative hurdles that prospective foreign investors must surmount is "unnecessarily large."

In a breakfast meeting with reporters, Ernest Stern, senior vice president of the bank for operations, praised China's efforts to provide its people with food, housing, and clothing as "almost unique" among developing nations.

Stern said the country's increases in agricultural productivity were "nothing less than astonishing."

According to Stern, the Chinese have not yet worked out all the details of a new five-year economic development plan, so the specifics of any increases in China's borrowing from the bank are not yet known.

But he described the five-year plan, as it now stands, as ambitious, apparently requiring increased external borrowing.

Another bank official said the Chinese were expected to ask for "substantial" increases.

"No country I know of, with the possible exception of Albania, has ever developed without the use of external capital," Stern said. "The alternative to not borrowing abroad would be a much slower rate of growth."

Stern said it took pragmatism and courage for China to adopt its current economic reforms, and that the country was now putting into place new incentives and new managers and officials who would make it possible for the country to carry them out.

The bank report itself ends on an optimistic but cautious note, because the authors were conscious that so many of China's problems are without historical precedent.