WASHINGTON – China and India received long-sought recognition Friday as global economic heavyweights as the International Monetary Fund gave them and other emerging powers a significantly larger role in stabilizing the world economy.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn announced planned reforms to the fund’s voting power after a meeting of the organization’s board, declaring that no longer would emerging economies feel that they are “invited to the table, but minor players.”

Brazil, China, India and Russia are now “major players,” Strauss-Kahn affirmed at a news conference. He called on these nations to assume greater responsibility in guiding the global economy.

The board’s decision elevates China to No. 3 in voting power above traditional IMF powers such as Germany, Britain and France. A number of smaller European nations and oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia lost votes so that “new changes in the global economy will now be reflected in changes in the fund,” said Strauss-Kahn.

Developing countries have long criticized the voting system of the IMF, which was established after World War II to stave off a reprise of the Great Depression. The United States and Japan maintain the two largest voting shares, but two European seats on the 24-member executive board will now be reserved for emerging economies.

The overhaul was called for when world powers met last year in Pittsburgh in an effort to revive global growth after the collapse of financial markets. The so-called Group of 20 nations will meet again next week in Seoul, South Korea.

The reform also encompasses the governing board’s membership, expanding its top tier from five to 10.

Currently, five countries essentially make up this group in the IMF’s 24-member executive board as they are always represented: the U.S., Japan, Britain, France and Germany. The group will be expanded to 10 with the addition of China, India, Brazil, Italy and Russia.

The IMF’s full membership of 187 countries must also agree on the changes. Some countries may need legislative approval.

The reforms represent a shift of about 6 percent of the IMF’s share assessments from the traditional Western powers to developing nations.

Still, there have been critics of the proposed changes. Aid agency Oxfam has called the voting power shift insufficient and notes that the Philippines has less weight than Luxembourg despite having 200 times more people.