Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, urged for closer ruling and inter-parliamentary cooperation between the Maldives and China.
The Speaker of China’s parliament made the comment upon meeting with the Maldivian parliament’s Speaker Abdulla Maseeh who is currently on an official visit to the Asian giant. Dejiang declared that China gives high priority to strengthening parliamentary cooperation and relations with the Maldives and urged sharing of ruling experiences between the two allies.
The two countries adopt differing government systems with the Maldives being a democracy and China a communist nation. Authority over the parliament and media are under the power of China’s ruling communist party while opposition against the state is entirely prohibited, bearing heavy criminal sentences.
Noting that China’s President Xi Jinping had expressed desire to maintain friendly relations between the Maldives and China during his visit to the archipelago in 2014, Chairman Dejiang declared that the two nations have achieved major progress in the sectors of economy, trade and infrastructure.
Urging to expand the current joint projects underway to other industries to further strengthen relations, Chairman Dejiang also appealed to frame the nations’ progress such that they integrate the new Silk Road project spearheaded by the Chinese government.
Speaking at the meeting, which was also attended by a delegation Maldives’ lawmakers, Speaker Maseeh lauded the bilateral relations between the Maldives and China as exemplary among small and large nation relations.
The Maldives officially entered China’s new Silk Road project “Belt and Road” in 2014, which mainly aims to undertake infrastructural projects in various countries. Accordingly, the Chinese government grants loans and other assistance for the development of bridges, airports and ports in nations strategically and geologically important to China.
The Maldives is also a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) of the Silk Road project which was founded to aid infrastructural development projects.
China has made great investments in the Maldives, including the development of the nation’s main airport and, most notably, the ongoing development of a bridge connecting capital Male with airport island Hulhule. The Link Road connecting the island wards of southernmost Addu atoll had also been developed with China’s free aid. Moreover, various private firms of China continue to invest in the tourism and construction sectors of the archipelago.
The developing relationship between the Maldives and China on the fast track has raised concerns from China’s rivals such as the archipelago’s regional neighbour and closest ally, India.