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China will remain important development partner: Minister Shahid

Shahudha Mohamed
22 July 2019, MVT 19:20
Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
22 July 2019, MVT 19:20

Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid on Monday assured that China will remain a monumental partner in Maldives' socio-economic development, guaranteeing that both countries have mutually beneficial diplomatic relations.

In a special interview given to Chinese Xinhua News Agency, Minister Shahid iterated that the relationship between Maldives and China was built on a historic friendship as well as respect harboured by both nations for the other's sovereignty.

The minister also attributed the improvement of relations between the two to recent dealings made.

"China is the fastest-growing economy in the world. All our neighbors are engaging themselves with China. The largest economies in the world are engaging with China. We will not be left behind in engaging with China", the newspaper quoted.

Additionally, Minister Shahid stated that Minister of Economics Fayyaz Ismail attending the Belt and Road Forum held recently in China was evidence of how much Maldives' prioritized China as a partner.

"This shows how much importance our government gives to the Belt and Road project", Shahid said.

Moreover, Minister Shahid expressed gratitude towards that projects held in collaboration with China, including Sinamale' Bridge, Velana International Airport's runway and housing projects.

Speaking about the relationship between both countries in the tourism sector, Minister Shahid highlighted that China has been the biggest market for Maldivian tourism in the past 10 years.

Statistics show that 95,272 Chinese nationals spent their holidays in Maldives during the first quarter of 2019. This consists of 14.7 percent of total tourist that visited during this time.

Shahid made these statements about the relations between Maldives and China amidst high tensions following accusations against China by Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Chinese Ambassador at the Maldives Zhang Lizhong responded to Nasheed's statement that Maldives owed China USD 3.4 billion as repayment for loans taken during former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administrations.

In response Nasheed's earlier assertions of Maldives being heavily indebted to China as a result of high-interest loans, Ambassador Lizhong assured that China had no agenda other than aiding Maldives' development efforts.

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