Former President Mohamed Nasheed met with the Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives, Zhang Lizhong, on Wednesday.
Marking the first meeting between the former president and the ambassador, the sit-down took place at the office of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the main party of the ruling coalition.
According to MDP, Nasheed and Zhang discussed areas of mutual interest and cooperation between Maldives and China, in the meeting that was also attended by MDP's Chairperson Hassan Latheef.
The island nation had substantially strengthened its ties with the Asian giant during the regime of previous President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. China was a key investor in the mega development projects of the past administration, notably the Sinamale Bridge that connects capital Male with airport island Hulhule and reclaimed suburb Hulhumale.
However, Nasheed has been critical of Maldives' growing relations with China under Yameen's regime, alleging that the Asian super power was leading the small island nation to a debt trap. He had claimed that Maldives' debt to China amounted to USD 3.2 billion, and slammed the Free Trade Agreement signed between the two countries, saying that it was too one-sided.
Nasheed's accusation had been refuted by former Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed, who stated that the country's debt to China was nowhere near Nasheed's alleged amount.
Known for his pro-India stance, Nasheed had also proclaimed during a recent visit to Addu City, that the residents of the southernmost atoll are key to ending the rivalry between India and China. He had stated that the people of Addu are not linked only to the interests of Maldives but to the interests of India as well, which had sparked controversy amongst the public.
Prior to the meeting with Nasheed, Chinese Ambassador Zhang had met with the newly elected President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to discuss bilateral relations.