WION Delhi, India
Nov 19, 2018, 03.40 PM
In his first comments on China, Maldives new president President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih "underscored the contributions made by China to the development of Maldives over the years." According to a release issued by the Maldivian President's office, Solih noted that "the Maldives values the historical and brotherly relations with China."
This came after his meeting with the special envoy of the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang who paid a courtesy call on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the President’s Office. He represented Bejing during Solih's swearing-in ceremony Saturday.
The Maldivian President "further expressed his confidence for continued cooperation between the two countries in the future," the release said.
At the meeting, the special envoy of the Chinese President assured President Solih of China’s "commitment to further strengthening the close bilateral relations."
Under former President Yameen, Maldivian ties with China had enhanced but at the same time, Yameen had junked India first policy. The number of Chinese infrastructure projects in the Indian ocean island country had increased and Yameen had signed a free-trade agreement or FTA with China.
The Chinese government has also constructed China Maldives friendship dam that connects the islands of Male and Hulhule and was the 1st inter-island bridge in the country. Built at an estimated cost of $210 million, $126 million was given by the Chinese government as a grant in aid.
But it is being feared that the Maldives might be saddled with debt during the China-led infrastructure development. During Modi-Solih meet on Saturday after swearing in ceremony, President Solih had briefed Prime Minister Modi on the dire economic situation in his country as he takes office. The two leaders discussed ways in which India can continue development partnership, particularly to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives.
At the meeting, the special envoy of the Chinese President assured President Solih of China’s 'commitment to further strengthening the close bilateral relations.'