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Amid Row With India, Maldives President Praises China’s Belt & Road Plan

2024-01-09 07:34:22

Amid Row With India, Maldives President Praises China's Belt & Road Plan

Mr Muizzu is in China for a five-day state visit.

Under attack from the opposition in his own country for his ministers’ remarks on India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has called China one of his nation’s “closest allies and developmental partners”. 

Mr Muizzu, who is on a five-day visit to China, pointed out that it was his first state visit to a foreign nation and said President Xi Jinping’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative delivered “significant infrastructure projects in the Maldives”.

Courting investors in China while addressing the Invest Maldives Forum in Fuzhou, Mr Muizzu – who is seen as being close to Beijing – spoke about “the long-standing and fruitful government-to-government and business-to-business cooperation” between the two countries.

According to a statement issued by the Maldives government, Mr Muizzu said that the relationship between the Maldives and China dates back to the ancient Maritime Silk Road and pointed out that the archipelago nation became a party to Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2014.

Speaking about his vision for the expansion of the central airport and commercial port, the Maldives president also emphasised that his government “is keen to explore partnerships under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative”.

“The president also highlighted the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between China and the Maldives, citing that the FTA would boost bilateral trade and investments, particularly by increasing the export of fish products to China, marking it as a key priority explored within the FTA,” the statement said.

Diplomatic Row

The visit by Mr Muizzu comes at a time when a Maldives MP has called for his removal and another has requested Parliament to summon the foreign minister. The President had suspended three ministers for their derogatory remarks after PM Modi shared photos of his Lakshadweep visit on January 4 and suggested that adventure lovers should add the group of islands to their bucket list.

Mariya Ahmed Didi – who is a former defence minister and a leader of the Maldives’ largest opposition party, the MNP – also hit out at the ruling People’s National Congress for potentially alienating an “age-old relationship” and referred to India as her country’s “911 call”. 

New Delhi summoned the Maldives’ envoy on Monday and several Indian tourists – the group which  accounted for the highest arrivals in the island nation in 2023 – reportedly cancelled their planned trips to the country. Posts by many celebrities and cricketers also contributed to  #BoycottMaldives trending on Twitter.

Mohamed Muizzu,India Maldives,Maldives Row

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