Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid stated that the government aimed to increase tourist arrivals from China to one million annually, by the year 2023.
In an interview given to national media PSM, following a meeting with State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi during Shahid's first official visit to China, the Foreign Minister stated that discussions focused on increasing the number of flights between the two countries to increase the number of tourist arrivals.
According to Minister Shahid, Wang Yi agreed on an increment to the number of flights operating between China and Maldives with the opening of the Beijing Daxin International Airport, expected to be unveiled on September 30.
"God willing, we will do this. The aim is to make arrangements so that one million tourists can visit Maldives [per year] before 2023", Shahid said.
Noting that there was no difficulty for Chinese nationals to visit Maldives, Shahid mentioned discussing a similar arrangement for Maldivians.
Citing Wang Yi, Shahid said that the studies conducted by China to provide visa waivers were almost complete, expressing hopes for Maldivians to receive waivers on their visa shortly.
"If a Maldivian is to travel to China, [as of now] they have to acquire a visa from the embassy. I requested China's Foreign Minister to extend the same opportunities for Maldivians".
Wang Yi assured Shahid that Maldives will always receive Chinese aid, in spite of whichever administration was in power at the time. In response, Shahid guaranteed the Chinese government that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's administration will maintain close relations with all countries, including China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Gen Shuan described Foreign Minister Shahid's visit to China as an opportunity to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.