China wants an Asian to succeed Kofi Annan as U.N. Secretary-General when his term runs out next year, the foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday.
Declared candidates to date include Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, currently visiting Beijing, and Sri Lankan peace negotiator Jayantha Dhanapala.
"Asian people haven't taken the important post for 34 years and Asia is the most populous continent," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference, referring to U Thant of Burma, now Myanmar, who served from 1961 until 1971.
"We think the next secretary-general should be picked from Asian nations."
Those who have expressed interest in the job also include South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon and East Timor Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs Jose Ramos-Horta.
No formal rotation system exists among the world's continents, but U.N. members generally agree the next secretary-general should come from Asia.
The U.N. secretary-general is appointed by the 191-nation General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council, where a candidate needs the approval of nine of the 15 members and can be vetoed by any of the five permanent member states.
China is one of the five and another permanent member, Russia, has said it will back an Asian, but American ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton has said it is looking not only in Asia for Annan's successor, according to Reuters.