Male, January 9 (Xinhua): Visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid here on Saturday, with both sides pledging to jointly build the Belt and Road and focus on post-pandemic recovery.
Wang said that looking back at the past 50 years since China and the Maldives established diplomatic relations, one can see that the two countries have always been mutually respectful, treating each other equally and sincerely, and firmly supporting each other on issues of core interests.
The two sides will continue to build the Belt and Road with high quality, actively pushing for key projects on basic infrastructure, houses, around-the-island power grid, and sea water desalination so as to offer impetus to the Maldives’ post-pandemic economic recovery, Wang said.
China supports the Maldives’ strategy of diversified development, and is willing to strengthen cooperation in emerging sectors such as digitalization and communication, and will help the Maldives to develop marine economy and tackle climate change, said Wang, adding that China welcomes more Maldivian products to enter its market.
For his part, Shahid said the joint construction of Belt and Road has borne fruitful results and has completely changed the Maldives’ society. China has offered a large number of materials and vaccines to his country to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, playing a key role in the 80-percent high vaccination rate in the Maldives.
The Maldives is willing to deepen pragmatic cooperation with the Chinese side, the foreign minister stressed.
Wang said he is glad to see Shahid will attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games in his capacity as president of the United Nations General Assembly, and the latter said he looks forward to attending the event and believes the games will be a great success.
After the meeting, the two sides signed cooperative agreements on mutual visa exemption, economic technology, infrastructure, sea water desalination, medicine and public health, among others.
At the joint press conference with Shahid on Saturday, Wang said that his visit to the Maldives is fruitful, which is the best mark of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations and will have advanced the development of the future-oriented, all-round friendly and cooperative partnership between China and the Maldives.
Wang said China will advance its joint efforts with the Maldives for a complete victory over COVID-19, accelerate cooperation on key projects and inject recovery momentum into vital Maldivian industries.
It is hoped the China-Maldives free trade agreement can be ratified and take effect at an early date so that the Maldivian products and services can access China’s market more easily, he added.
China is also willing to enhance cooperation with the archipelagic country on addressing climate change and helping small island countries in overcoming practical difficulties, Wang said.
Meeting with President Solih
While meeting with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih said his country and China reached an important consensus last year on consolidating the ties and broaden pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.
The president thanked China for its tremendous contribution to his country’s socio-economic development, the firm support to his country’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19, and its reduction and suspension of the Maldives’ debt within the framework of G20.
The Maldives firmly upholds the one China policy, and their sound bilateral ties and solid mutual trust are rooted in the long and traditional friendship and adherence to the principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect, the president stressed.
Expressing his confidence in the future development of bilateral ties, the Maldivian president said his country is ready to seize the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries to deepen mutual understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation so as to push for the stronger development of bilateral ties.
For his part, Wang said this year marks the 50th anniversary of establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and the Maldives, which have withstood the test of international vicissitudes and become more mature, thus contributing to the regional peace and stability.
The most precious experiences from the five decades’ exchanges between the two countries are the mutual respect, equal treatment as well as unity and mutual help which have consolidated the political foundation of the bilateral ties, Wang noted.
Appreciating the Maldives’ firm support on China’s core interests, Wang said China has always supported the Maldives in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity, seeking a development path suited to its own national conditions and pursuing an independent foreign policy, Wang said.
China is willing to expand cooperation with the Maldives in all fields and back its efforts to push for the strategy of diversified development, he said, hoping that a free trade deal between the two countries will be approved at an early date so as to facilitate the economic transformation and upgrading of the Maldives.
Wang also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is the common enemy of mankind, and China will continue to uphold the vision of a global community of health for all and fight the virus side by side with the Maldives.
China is willing to continue providing the Maldives with anti-virus supplies including vaccines as needed, he said.
The two sides also exchanged views on strengthening coordination on international affairs.
Photos: Tang Lu/Xinhua