China on Thursday said the Maldives’ president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has assured the implementation of the previous bilateral agreements and continue with the ongoing projects in the Indian Ocean island nation.
President Abdulla Yameen’s shock defeat in the September 23 election was widely reported as a blow for China, which financed his administration’s flagship infrastructure projects with loans in excess of a billion dollars, drawing accusations of a debt trap from the main opposition party’s leader.
After the defeat of Yameen, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Solih. China’s Ambassador to the Maldives Zhang Lizhong also called on Solih as mark of China’s support to the power transition in Male.
Commenting on Zhang’s recent meeting with Solih, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told the media here on Thursday that the newly president elect had assured continuation of the projects.
Zhang told Solih that China is willing to work with new government to cement the traditional friendship, deepen mutual benefit cooperation and elevate bilateral ties to a higher level, Lu said.
Solhi “expressed thanks for Chinese contribution towards the Maldives’ national development”, he said.
“He said that the new government will stay committed to enhancing ties with China following the already signed cooperation agreements and continue to implement the existing cooperation projects and continue to explore cooperation in more areas such as infrastructure, livelihood and tourism so as to move forward our bilateral ties,” Lu stated.
Asked about criticism related to the Chinese projects and whether China has concerns about their continuation, Lu said Solih has assured the continuation of the projects.
China and the Maldives conducted cooperation in many areas. This cooperation is on the basis of consultation between both the governments, he said.
It aims to contribute to Maldives economic and social development and deliver benefits to the people of Maldives, he said.
“We also noted that at different stages some people do not want to see the smooth progress of our cooperation,” he said, in apparent reference to the bitter criticism of Chinese investments by former Maldivian president Muhammad Nasheed.
Nasheed, who is living to exile in Sri Lanka is the senior leader of the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) to which Solih belonged.