This article is a statement by the Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives, Zhang Lizhong regarding bilateral cooperation between Maldives and China.
Let China-Maldives Friendship and Cooperation Ride on the Fast Lane of Development
A few days ago, China’s “Two Sessions*” were concluded successfully, out of which there emerged a series of eye-catching numbers on China’s economic growth. China’s GDP grew by 6.6% last year and the total GDP exceeded RMB 90 trillion. Looking into 2019, the main targets of Chinese economic growth are quite within reach, with GDP growth of 6-6.5%, creation of over 11 million urban jobs and reduction of more than 10 million poor population in rural areas. China will continue to lead global economic growth and bring fresh certainty and vitality into a world of uncertainty and volatility.
A single flower does not make a spring. China’s development has already and will continue to make a contribution to world economic growth. In particular, it will provide developing countries with practical Chinese solutions, development-boosting Chinese speed and reliable Chinese quality. With the great vision and vigorous promotion of President Xi Jinping, China is making all-out efforts to build the community of shared destiny for mankind with the purpose of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development. Through the spring breeze of the “Belt and Road” Initiative, a considerable number of participating countries have enjoyed the benefits and an increasing number of people have shared the dividends brought by China’s development.
In 2014, President Xi Jinping made a historic visit to the Maldives and the two heads of state reached important consensus on promoting the “Belt and Road” cooperation. After 33 months of hard work, the construction teams from both countries overcame the harsh environment of high temperature, high salinity and high corrosion, and successfully built the first cross-sea bridge in the history of Maldives. The renovation and expansion project of Velana International Airport is making headway smoothly. The new runway has been tested by the world’s largest passenger airliner. I believe that in the near future, Maldives will have a well-equipped new airport, which will help boost the local tourism industry. The social housing project in the Maldives is well under construction and a number of tall buildings have sprung up from the ground. The Maldivians’ dream of living in contentment is just around the corner. It can be said that the “Belt and Road” cooperation between China and Maldives reflects the core principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits. What it has brought is an apple pie and development opportunity rather than so-called “debt trap” or even geopolitical game tool.
In addition, the number of Chinese tourists stays at the top among all the foreign tourists visiting the Maldives for 9 consecutive years. The modern ambulance boat provided by China to the Maldives has transferred many critically-ill patients on other atolls. The China-aided vehicles, generator sets and other livelihood materials have brought concrete benefits to the Maldivians. In the future, China will continue to provide more assistance within its capability to the Maldives in the most-needed livelihood areas, such as seawater desalination, garbage disposal, medical rescue, among others.
An ancient Chinese saying goes, “Isn’t it always a pleasure to greet a friend from afar?” Since the voyages to the West by the great ancient Chinese navigator Zheng He more than 600 years ago, China as a friend from afar, has always been bringing peace and friendship to the Maldives. Today, as a friend and partner, China is more than happy to welcome the people of Maldives to take the express train of
China’s development, and work together for a better future of the community of shared destiny for mankind.
*Two Sessions refers to the annual sessions of National People’s Congress (NPC) and National People’s Political Consultative Conference (NPPCC), which are usually held from early March to mid-March in Beijing.
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