The US withdrawal from Unesco could give China scope to take a bigger role in the world heritage body, analysts say, as Beijing seeks to boost its international soft power. Irina Bokova, director general of Unesco, expressed her “profound regret” at the decision. The loss of its biggest donor could seriously undermine the operation and functioning of Unesco, and China will likely take on a greater role, according to Jin Canrong, an international relations expert at Renmin University in Beijing. “It is inevitable that China’s importance in this organisation will increase, but I don’t think China wants to take over the role of the United States”, he said. Beijing on Friday said it would continue participating and cooperating with other countries in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation after Washington announced it would leave the agency the previous day. “China values the importance of Unesco and would like to contribute more to the organisation’s cooperation”, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing in Beijing. China is the third largest contributor to Unesco, providing 7.9 per cent of funding to the organisation. That compares to the 22 per cent the United States used to provide, and 9 per cent from Japan.