MALE, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- In an interview with the Indian media, former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed alleged that China was "grabbing land" from the Maldives by investing in 17 resort islands, a statement rebutted by Maldivian and Chinese officials and experts.
The "land grabbing" rhetoric is not only fictitious but also irresponsible, just as what Maldivian Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed told Xinhua, "Nasheed is very detached from the reality. He is trying to confuse the system. He is trying to tell a different story to the world, which is far from reality."
According to the open statistics from the Maldivian Tourism Ministry, among the more than 100 Maldivian resort islands, Chinese companies have only planned to invest in seven of them, not 17.
Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer said there are only about seven resorts which have been invested by Chinese enterprises and these resorts are still being developed. Countries such as Singapore and Thailand have invested much more in the Maldivian tourism sector, China only ranks the sixth, he noted.
"We do encourage countries including China to come to invest in the Maldivian tourism sector, that does not mean 'grabbing land' from our country," Zameer said.
Saeed also said that the Maldives currently has a number of economic development projects with China. China today is a major economic power in the world, yet that does not mean China is involved in "land grabbing" anywhere.
The Chinese government and its people have been maintaining a close friendship with their Maldivian counterparts since the two countries established diplomatic relations decades ago.
Today, under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Maldives and China have embarked on many cooperative projects such as the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge project, the Male International Airport expansion project, as well as jointly developing the seven resort islands.
China's efforts and contribution to promoting the transition and upgrade of the Maldives' economy and the improvement of the Maldivian people's livelihoods have been greatly appreciated and welcomed by the Maldivian people.
However, as a former Maldivian president, who has also experienced the benefits from the fruitful cooperation between the Maldives and China, Nasheed this time chose to turn a blind eye to the fact.
Spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in the Maldives, Counselor Yang Yin said, the bilateral cooperation such as the housing projects, the Lamuu link road were initiated during Nasheed's tenure.
"Why did Nasheed support this normal economic and trade cooperation during his tenure and now turns to oppose it? Let alone fabricating statistics to tarnish the normal bilateral cooperation between the two countries? These doubts remain in the mind of the Chinese side," Yang said.
The diplomatic relations between the Maldives and China have been established for more than 45 years, with the practical cooperation between the two sides deepening day by day.
It is the people of the two countries who have the final say over whether the bilateral cooperation is mutually beneficial or not, not by a single former politician.
Looking at the development of China-Maldives relationship, one needs to hold an objective, fair and balanced position with a long-term view. Only with that kind of attitude, one can really promote the healthy development of China-Maldives relations.