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China denounces Maldives’ former president’s “land grab” claims

(People's Daily Online)    17:25, February 09, 2018

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China’s foreign ministry on Thursday rebuked Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed for his accusation of China engaging in a land grab of Maldivian islands, noting that China has never attached any political conditions to aiding the latter.

“China offers its assistance to the Maldives with no political strings attached. There is no way that such assistance will impair Maldives' sovereignty and independence, not to mention undermining the security of the Indian Ocean region,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a regular press conference on Thursday.

Geng’s remarks are China’s official response to Mohamed Nasheed’s land grab claims. The former Maldivian president attacked his political rival, the country’s current president Abdulla Yameen in an op-ed published by The Indian Express, in which he noted that “foreign powers, among them China, are engaged in a land grab of our country, key infrastructure and even essential utilities.”

Nasheed also criticized China for helping his country, adding that “I fear that, piece by piece, island by island, the Maldives is being sold off to China.”

“These allegations are absolutely nonsense. When Mr. Nasheed was the president, China also offered assistance and conducted practical cooperation with his country, which led to enormous outcomes. Would Mr. Nasheed call that ‘grab’ as well?” questioned Geng.

In sharp contrast to his biased claim to China, Nasheed did call for better Sino-Maldivian relations during his tenure as the president. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, Nasheed noted in 2010 that given the friendly relations between Maldives and China, frequent high-level visits and increasing Chinese tourists, “all walks of life hoped further enhance trade and economic cooperation with China.”

China’s aid also solved economic issues raised during Nasheed’s tenure. For instance, in 2011, when Maldives transitioned from a least developed country to a middle income one, its largest trade partner, the European Union, required Maldivian fish exporters to pay a 25 percent duty to enter its market, while according to The Diplomat, after Maldives became the second South Asian country after Pakistan to sign a free-trade agreement with China, it opened up the “world’s largest consumer market” to Maldivian fish and fish products at zero duty.

“The friendly cooperation between China and the Maldives is for the benefit of all Maldivians. It serves the common interests of the two countries and the two peoples,” Geng added.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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