11 Jan 2024

Maldives and China Sign 20 Key Agreements Amidst Diplomatic Strain with India

Against the backdrop of ongoing diplomatic tensions between India and Maldives, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a meeting with with Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu on Wednesday. Following their meeting, the two nations inked 20 significant agreements, marking a pivotal moment in their diplomatic relations, with a focus on tourism cooperation.

Both countries expressed their commitment to expanding bilateral ties. President Muizzu, on his inaugural official visit to China, expressed his honor and joy in being the first foreign political guest for China in the new year.

The Maldives Presidential Office announced the signing of 20 major agreements between the governments of Maldives and China in the presence of their respective Presidents. These agreements encompass various areas such as strengthening investment in tourism cooperation, blue economy, disaster management, and the digital economy. China has also pledged grant-in-aid to Maldives, although the specific amount remains undisclosed.

The agreements further include provisions for accelerating construction projects through China's Belt and Road Initiative, undertaking housing projects at Fushidiggaru Falhu, constructing fishery products factories, and redeveloping road development projects in Male and Vilimale.

According to China's Xinhua News Agency, President Xi Jinping emphasized China's respect and support for the Maldives, pledging assistance in their development agenda. China stands firmly with Maldives in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and national dignity.

Dispute Between India and Maldives

Muizzu's five-day visit to China coincides with a diplomatic dispute between India and Maldives. Recent objectionable remarks made by two Maldivian ministers against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to diplomatic summonses on both sides.

Maldives High Commissioner to India Ibrahim Sahib was summoned, while India's High Commissioner to Maldives Munu Mahavar met with Male's Ambassador at Large Naseer Mohammed. In response to derogatory social media posts, the Muizzu government suspended three deputy ministers.

During his visit to China, Muizzu urged China to reclaim its position as the largest contributor to Maldives' tourism before the Covid pandemic. This comes at a time when the majority of Indian travelers currently dominate the tourism sector in Maldives.

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