by Tang Lu, Jamila Najmuddin
MALE, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The Maldives government led by President Ibrahim Solih will work to strengthen and ensure that relations between Maldives and China would continue to maintain the momentum of development and the Maldives will take all necessary steps to impel the existing bonds of friendship and understanding between the two countries to new heights in the years to come, Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has said.
In an interview with Xinhua, Shahid said the Maldives government and its people note with gratitude the assistance received from the government of China and the Chinese people in combating the spread of the COVID-19.
"China has been and will continue to remain as an important economic and bilateral development partner of the Maldives and the government of Maldives is committed to working with China in further strengthening the strong ties of bilateral relations and the strong bonds of friendship between the people of the Maldives and the people of China," Shahid said.
President Solih and his government will work to strengthen and ensure the Maldives-China relationship continues unabated and take all necessary steps to impel the existing bonds of friendship and understanding to new heights in the years to come, he added.
Shahid said the Maldives has greatly benefited in the implementation of development projects with the help of Chinese assistance and looks forward to further strengthening mutually beneficial development cooperation.
On the Belt and Road Initiative, the foreign minister said the assistance Maldives has received from China over the years has contributed significantly to the socio-economic development of the country. From social housing to the implementation of infrastructure projects as well as human resource development.
The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge is a visible symbol of friendship between the two countries, Shahid said.
"The government of Maldives remains committed to working with China in completing the ongoing projects and to engage in new ones in the future," the minister said.
The Maldives re-opened its international airport on July 15 to tourists following the COVID-19 pandemic and the island country had entered the recovery phase of the virus.
With the island's tourism sector being the backbone of the economy, Shahid said, the Maldivian government is keen to welcome Chinese tourists back into the country as China remained the number one market for the Maldives tourism sector.
Responding to allegations made by a Maldivian politician recently, concerning China, Shahid said that Maldives-China relations were built on a solid foundation of a common historic bond.
Maldives will firmly uphold the one-China principle and is willing to work with China to further strengthen bilateral relations and the profound friendship between the two peoples on the basis of mutual respect, said the minister. Enditem