by Shiran Illanperuma, Xinhua writer Tang Lu
Male, March 10 (Xinhua): China has played an important role in the development of the Maldives, said President Ibrahim Solih in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, affirming his commitment to closer cooperation with the Asian country.
“Over the years, China has cemented itself as one of Maldives’ most important and reliable partners,” Solih said, noting that China has contributed immensely to the Maldives’ socio-economic and infrastructural development.
Solih said he visited the Velana International Airport recently and saw the progress of the work done there.
The expansion and upgrading of the airport, being carried out with Chinese assistance, is one of the key projects under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
“I have personally witnessed the commitment and efforts by the Chinese builders on these important projects,” said Solih. “Despite the ongoing pandemic, I am humbled that Chinese projects resumed work, with Chinese workers returning to Maldives with precautionary measures in place,” he said.
China and the Maldives have supported each other since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, Solih said, conveying the appreciation of the Maldivian people for Chinese aid.
The COVID-19 pandemic has battered the Maldives’ fragile economy, and the government will focus on rebuilding the tourism sector and diversifying the economy, he said, expecting China’s continued support for his country’s economic revival and close bilateral cooperation in fishery, agriculture and renewable energy.
Solih said his country is interested in closer cooperation on climate-related projects, noting that the Maldives is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in the context of climate change.
“China has the ability to lead humanity on the Green front, to revolutionize important technologies, and to open a path into a new era that will be greener, healthier and yield sustainable economic progress,” Solih said.
The Maldives has already worked closely with China on international issues of mutual interest and is looking forward to future cooperation, Solih said.