Margaret Chan was not picked to head the WHO because of a political deal between China and developing countries, the Foreign Ministry's top man in Hong Kong said yesterday. 'We sought the support of the third world countries based on our mutual affection. There was no political exchange,' said Commissioner Lu Xinhua . 'As a developing country, our support to Africa is a selfless contribution.' Developing countries offered their support as a result of 'real friendship', he said during a public lecture at the University of Hong Kong. Some commentators have suggested Dr Chan was chosen by a 34-nation panel to be World Health Organisation director-general thanks to China's heavy investment in developing countries such as those in Africa. During last week's Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit in Beijing, China pledged to double its aid to Africa and expand bilateral trade to US$100 billion by 2010. Asked by a member of the audience about Dr Chan's suitability to lead the UN's health agency given the unsatisfactory job many say she did during the Sars and bird flu outbreaks, Mr Lu insisted she was up to the job. He said both outbreaks had involved new viruses of which no one had prior knowledge. Asked about the impact of Dr Chan's victory on China and Hong Kong, Mr Lu said: 'China is a big country with a population of 1.3 billion. Hygienic living conditions for our people are a key target of the WHO. We will fully support her work.'