Neighbours jealous of China-led developments, says ruling party lawmaker

South Asian neighbours are “jealous” of the progress the Maldives is making through its partnership with China, MP Riyaz Rasheed said at a ruling party rally Tuesday night.

“There are neighbours of ours who are jealous of the progress and development that could come to this nation because we joined China,” the deputy parliamentary group leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives was quoted as saying by Mihaaru.

“But we’re not going to look back. We are going to form ties with whomever we have to. We will sever ties with those we have to.”

Neighbouring countries are concerned with the loss of business as Maldivians would stop travelling for medical purposes once the Dharumavantha hospital is opened, he suggested.

The remarks came as ministers and lawmakers defended an under-fire free trade agreement with China that was rushed through parliament last week.

Riyaz went on to say that no other country has provided the level of assistance that China has during the past few years. Two of the current administration’s flagship projects, the Malé-Hulhulé bridge and expansion of the airport, are financed through Chinese grant aid and concessional loans.

The MP also indirectly criticised the Indian ambassador for meeting the mayor of Fuvahmulah and the deputy mayor of Addu City, both opposition city council members.

According to Sun Online, Akhilesh Mishra also met with opposition councillors from Haa Dhaal atoll, Gaaf Alif and Alif Alif Ukulhas.

Riyaz, who recently stirred controversy after accusing Sri Lanka of aiding an opposition coup plot, said he was speaking in his capacity as MP for Vilufushi.

“The government doesn’t have to bear responsibility for what I say here. And these TV [stations broadcasting the rally] don’t have to be responsible either. I will take that responsibility,” he was quoted as saying.

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