Mohamed Faisal, Maldivian ambassador to China, accepts Xinhuanet's interview on Feb. 23, 2017. (Xinhuanet Photo)
By Zhang Dongmiao, Song Lifang
BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Maldives can benefit hugely by being part of the Belt and Road Initiative, said Mohamed Faisal, Maldivian ambassador to China during a recent exclusive interview with Xinhuanet.
The initiative is significant, not only for regional development, but also for global development in terms of economy and people-to-people exchanges, he added.
As a very strategic country located straight in the middle of the ocean, Maldives has been linking the east and the west for centuries, with market access to countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
There are also potential for ports and airports in Maldives, he introduced.
Currently China is helping Maldives to expand the facility in Male International Airport, the ambassador said.
This will increase the capacity of the airport to about seven million passengers per year, bringing a boost to tourism industry, he said. "So although Maldives is small, by being part of this global initiative, we can benefit more", he noted.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.
The initiative also allows the countries to work towards the future of shared destiny, the ambassador emphasized.
"Although we may differ as to how we can achieve prosperity, the goals that we aspire to, such as high standards of living for our people and good environment, are universal among all".
"I'm very happy that China here today is taking up leadership roles in helping all countries, especially small counties to achieve these goals", he added.
Hailing China's long-standing civilization and efforts to promote its culture, the ambassador said there's much potential for exchanges between the two countries.
2017 is a very important year as we will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Maldives, he told Xinhuanet.
" We have a lot of cultural events lined up for the year both in Maldives and here in China," he noted.
Praising the bilateral relationship as in "golden period", the ambassador appreciated the various forms of assistance that China offered to Maldives. "Right now, China is one of our most important development partners", he stressed.
The relationship between China and Maldives is based on mutual understanding and win-win cooperation, said the ambassador. "And that's what we appreciate in this relationship."