China will bid to host the 2030 World Cup, their coach Marcello Lippi said, underlining the country's ambitions to become a leading football power.
Football fan president Xi Jinping has stated his aim for China to stage the showpiece one day and wants the country, who have only qualified once for the World Cup in 2002, to become a major force in the sport.
Xi met FIFA chief Gianni Infantino in Beijing in June, ramping up speculation that China would bid for either the 2030 or 2034 World Cup.
Lippi, China's decorated Italian coach, said that the Chinese Football Association (CFA) had invested "great effort" into developing the country's youth players as part of the government push to improve the fortunes of the much-maligned national side.
"This is a great start for me," he said in an interview with the Chengdu Business Daily.
"What I also want to tell you is that the Chinese FA will bid for the 2030 World Cup."
Lippi, who coached Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, was speaking after China were beaten 4-0 by Colombia on Tuesday in a friendly in Chongqing.
China failed to make next year's World Cup in Russia, but they are slowly improving under the 69-year-old Lippi, who joined in October 2016, midway through qualifying.
South Korea's football association (KFA) in June said it was interested in a joint bid with North Korea, Japan and China, an ambitious initiative aimed at easing tensions in the region.
But the KFA admitted it was likely a non-starter, partly because China -- who have been throwing money at football development -- appeared intent on making their own bid.