Chinese Embassy marks the Chinese New Year in Malé

The Chinese Embassy in Malé held a reception to mark the Chinese New Year in Dharubaaruge last night.

Speaking at the reception, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon stated that relations between the Maldives and China have strengthened and “accelerated to unprecedented levels in the last year”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Maldives in September of last year prompted talks that led to the the Maldives officially agreeing to participate in the Silk Road trade route and to engage upon free trade in the future.

Dunya noted that the relationship between the two countries was based on “sovereignty and territorial integrity; it is about non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; it is about peaceful co-existence; and most importantly, it is about cooperation for mutual benefit.”

Chinese Ambassador Wang Fukang stated while “high level exchanges have been frequent and fruitful” between the Maldives and China, “economic cooperation has been enhanced and expanded”, along with “people to people exchanges”.

Fukang pledged that the Chinese government will facilitate Maldivian fish products to be exported to China, will encourage more Chinese tourists to visit the Maldives, will provide more training and scholarship opportunities for Maldivians, will improve cooperation “in areas like technology, culture and wealth”, and will “enhance cooperation particularly on issues like climate change”.

Last night’s speeches were followed by cultural performances from both Maldivian and Chinese youth, including a song sung in Mandarin by a Maldivian performer.


National debt easing, says Dr Shaheed

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Ahmed Shaheed has told Miadhu that the Maldives’ national debt stood at 110% of GDP at the end of 2008 according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports.

Dr Shaheed said he is “not ashamed” to tell the truth about the country’s financial situation, because international financial institutions are monitoring the country’s external debts.

He said the country’s debt was due to the previous government’s extravagance in buying presidential yachts and offices. He added that this debt was the reason for the government reducing civil service salaries as they had no alternative.

Dr Shaheed said certain leaders of political parties are trying to spin the facts, contradicting the IMF’s reports.

Dr Shaheed said working with the international community and multilateral financial institutions is easing the country’s debt. The USA has readmitted the Maldives into the General System of Preferences, its duty-free quota system as well as signing an agreement with the US’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) which encourages companies to invest in the Maldives.

The Maldives also hopes to be admitted into the US’s development assistance project, Millennium Challenge Account, as well as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.