By Zhu Ruiqing, Tang Lu/Xinhua
Male, June 22: The Maldives and China have always enjoyed a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship, which has reached to a historic level over the past few years, said Midhuam Saud, Vice President of the NGO, Maldives China Trade and Cultural Organization (MCTCO).
He told Xinhua in a recent interview that in the future, “with sky being the limit”, infinite possibilities lie in cooperation between the two countries.
Midhuam said, today, the Maldives is cooperating with China in a wide range of platforms, from co-building the multi-national Belt and Road Initiative, to joining China-proposed financial institutes like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to several culture exchange programs.
The cooperation between the Maldives and China has yielded fruitful results and indeed brought benefits to the Maldivians, said the vice president.
“For instance, the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge is realized under the Belt and Road Initiative; the ambitious social housing project in the Maldives’ Hulhumale island is realized under Chinese finance. And over 300 Maldivian civil servants went to China for professional training last year alone.”
“In addition to the Chinese government scholarships, China Maldives Cultural Association and MCTCO which I represent, both registered NGOs in the Maldives, are now working closely with the Chinese side in promoting all kinds of exchange programs to strengthen people to people relationships,” the vice president said.
Midhuam continued, “as we speak, a team from the Maldives’s local government authority including several councilors are preparing to go to China for a training program.”
China indeed plays a vital role in the “economic boom” in the Maldives today. And this is not a case local to the Maldives but a global phenomenon. China is a vital economic and trade partner of many countries on earth, not just the Maldives, he said.
While commenting on the questioning rhetoric that the projects undertaken by Chinese companies in the Maldives are making the island country increasingly debt-burdened, Midhuam said that debt is a “natural” issue common to all developing countries like the Maldives, as well as most developed countries.
“Debt per say, is not an issue, if the borrowing nation has a plan to pay back. The only way we, as a developing nation, can achieve our developmental goals is by taking loans, and most people I meet here accept this fact,” he explained.
Midhuam further explained why the Maldives chooses to take the loan from China, saying that over the past few years, not only the Maldives, many developing countries in need of loans to bring major economic changes have turned to China, the only country which has the capacity to give loans with friendly conditions.
“After decades’ development, today’s China has the financial capacity to provide loans to other countries with the attached terms and conditions being far more attractive than those from other financial institutes. That’s why we take the loan from China,” the vice president said.
The Maldives is a young country, with the median age less than 30 years old. By quoting legendary U.S. political activist Malcolm X’s saying “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today”, Midhuam called on the youths in the Maldives to be ready for the opportunities brought from the cooperation between China and Maldives.
“Economically, 35 percent of the world growth from 2017 to 2019 will come from China according to statistics; environmentally, China has promised to achieve blue skies in all major cities, and China is already equipped with state-of-the-art solar energy technology now. The rise of China is dominating the world picture today,” Midhuam said.
“It is necessary that our youths understand the opportunities they get today through the Maldives, China cooperation will help them to be well prepared for tomorrow. The future does belong to those who prepare for it today,” Midhuam concluded.
(The featured image at the top shows Midhuam Saud, Vice President of Maldives China Trade and Cultural