China on Thursday said “some people” cannot stand its friendship with the Maldives even as its President-elect Ibrahim Solih has assured that his country will implement all the projects agreed between Beijing and Male.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said its Ambassador to the Maldives Zhang Lizhong met Solih recently and told him that Beijing was willing to work and deepen cooperation with the new government after pro-Beijing leader Abdulla Yameen was defeated in last month’s election.
Yameen had earlier signed a slew of agreements with Beijing perceived to be favouring China more.
In the run-up to the polls, Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party had criticized the increased Chinese investment, especially the Free Trade Deal Abdulla’s government rushed through Parliament without debate.
Giving details about the meeting between Solih and Chinese envoy, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said: “He (Solih) said his government will stay committed to enhancing ties with China following the already signed cooperation agreements and continue to implement the existing projects.
“The new government in the archipelago nation will continue to explore cooperation in more areas such as infrastructure, livelihood and tourism so as to move forward our bilateral ties,” said Lu.
Asked if Beijing was worried if Solih’s government might review the Chinese projects, Lu said that China and the Maldives cooperate on the basis of equal consultation between the two governments.
Beijing aims to contribute to the Maldives’ social and economic development, he said.
“We also noted that at different stages some people don’t want to see the smooth progress of our cooperation,” the spokesperson added.
The Maldives sits on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean where both India and China vie for influence.
The Maldives has always been a traditional ally of India. But under Yameen’s presidency, the country moved closer to China, worrying New Delhi.
China, which didn’t even have an Embassy in Male until 2011, has stepped up its engagement in the country by building bridges, airports and high-end housing complexes. Yameen also approved China’s Belt and Road project, which India does not support.
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