Top legislator's visit marks new chapter in China-Maldives ties

16:24, May 30, 2011      

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Yang Xiuping, Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, was interviewed by People's Daily before Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, makes his upcoming visit to the Maldives at the invitation of his Maldives counterpart Abdulla Shahid. Yang said that, as this is the first visit by a top Chinese legislator to the Maldives, the visit is of great and far-reaching significance to promote the exchanges between the two countries’ top legislatures and advance the all-round development of good-neighborly relations and friendly cooperation between the two countries.

Yang said that the bilateral relations between China and the Maldives have maintained continuous and healthy development since the establishment of diplomatic ties, with frequent exchange visits among top-level officials and brisk exchanges at various levels and in different aspects. In May 2010, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed made a successful state visit to China and participated in related activities at the Shanghai World Expo.

During the visit, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Nasheed held a kind and friendly discussion and reached extensive consensus on mutually beneficial cooperation in various aspects. China's NPC and the Maldives parliament have maintained close exchanges and have each established a team promoting China-Maldives ties. Shahid made a successful visit to China in January 2011, and the exchanges between the two countries' parliaments have become a major part of the bilateral ties.

Yang said that despite the differences in national context and social systems, China and the Maldives have always understood, respected and supported each other. The Maldives government has attached great importance to developing friendly relations with China, always adhered to the one-China policy and firmly supported China in major issues involving China's core interests.

The Chinese government has always advocated that all countries, big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, are equal members of the international community and has respected the development path chosen by the people of Maldives according to their national conditions. Furthermore, China has drawn particular attention to the issue of climate change, and fully understands the special concerns of small island countries including the Maldives over the issue. The two sides have maintained close exchanges and cooperation in this field.

When talking about the economic and trade cooperation between China and the Maldives, Yang said that the bilateral trade volume has been expanding steadily in recent years. The volume reached nearly 64 million U.S. dollars in 2010, up nearly 56 percent from the previous year. China has actively encouraged successful domestic enterprises to participate in the Maldives' infrastructure construction and other projects. With preferential loans from the Chinese government, a Chinese company is now busy constructing the 1,000 Housing Units Project in the Maldives, the largest economic and trade cooperation project since the two countries established diplomatic relations.

The project is expected to greatly alleviate the overcrowding in Male, the capital of the Maldives. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," and the two countries have stood by each other at all times and under all circumstances. China provided immediate assistance to the Maldives when it was hit by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, and the Maldives also offered a helping hand shortly after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

The timely mutual assistance has fully reflected the deep friendship between the two countries. Yang said that China has been helping the Maldives to promote its social and economic development. The Maldives' Ministry of Foreign Affairs office building and the Maldives National Museum that China helped build have become landmark buildings in Male and signs of friendship between the two countries.

As the cultural exchanges and cooperation between the two countries have been steadily expanding in recent years, tourism has become an emerging area for the bilateral cooperation. More and more Chinese people see the Maldives as a favorable tourist destination. According to statistics from the Maldives government, the Maldives received nearly 120,000 Chinese tourists in 2010, marking that China has become its largest source country of foreign tourists.

In addition, China has also helped the Maldives in talent training by offering government scholarships and various forms of advanced training. The number of Maldives students studying in China reached 117 in 2010. The two countries have also signed cooperation agreements in culture, education, sports and other areas, which have effectively enhanced the friendship and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two sides.

Wu’s visit will inject new vitality into China-Maldives relations. It is certain that the good-neighborly and friendly relations between the two countries will be further enhanced.

By Liao Zhengjun People's Daily's resident reporter in India, translated by People's Daily Online

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