Chinese tourists, diplomats make a splash in the Maldives: AFP

“The travellers pouring off flight LV199 from Shanghai into the international airport of the Maldives, many dressed in designer labels, are an unmissable sign of China’s interest in the far-flung archipelago,” writes the AFP.

“Their arrival — Chinese visitors are now the biggest group of tourists to the Indian Ocean islands — has been accompanied by greater diplomatic engagement in the Maldives by Beijing, which is investing widely around South Asia.

Recently married Chen Hui and Fang Ye, 20-something business executives from near Shanghai, are returning for their second trip and heading to a resort by speed boat where over-the-water bungalows start at $500 a night.

“Most of our friends come here on their honeymoon,” Fang told AFP, who said they were looking forward to doing some fishing and posing for photos on the sun-kissed white sands that draw nearly a million visitors a year.”

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