China Is a Trusted and Reliable Partner for Maldives

Facts show that close cooperation between China and Maldives has brought win-win cooperation to the Maldives and tangible benefits to the Maldivian people.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Since the BRI was proposed, it has become an important global public product, generating tangible benefits for participating countries including investment increase, job creation and people’s livelihood improvement.

The BRI has gradually progressed from an idea into actions and from vision to reality, by yielding fruitful results to countries and people around the world. To date, China has signed more than 200 BRI cooperation documents with 151 countries and 32 international organizations.

Maldives is one of the first countries in South Asia to join the BRI to jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Maldives recognizes the BRI as an important initiative in strengthening cooperation along the silk road and has become a key member of BRI.

Since then, Maldives has commenced a series of developmental projects under the BRI. To date, China has undertaken a number of projects in Maldives under the BRI including infrastructure, energy, power grids, health, garbage disposal, economic development, and socio-economic development.

Strategically located, Maldives was part of the ancient Silk Road, especially the Spice Route. Maldives was an important stop for the merchants from the West on the hunt for spices from China. Most of the traders on route to and from China had embarked in the Maldives.

Chinese tourists leave for the resort island by boat from the Velana International Airport on Jan. 18, 2023. (Photo/Xinhua)

The friendly exchanges between China and Maldives have a long history and the relationship between both countries began as early as in China’s Ming Dynasty with frequent trips and thriving businesses. Today, ancient Chinese porcelainware and coins unearthed locally are on display in the National Museum in Male, which bears witness to the friendly interactions between the two countries.

China and Maldives established diplomatic relations in 1972. Since then, the relations further evolved with increased economic and diplomatic engagements. China and Maldives Signed the Free Trade Agreement in 2017. China-Maldives FTA is the 16th FTA China has ever signed, and it is Maldives’s first bilateral FTA with a foreign country.

Maldives has benefited from BRI in several aspects and brought tangible benefits to locals. The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge (Sinamale Bridge) is a landmark project of the BRI. Prior to the bridge inauguration, locals heavily relied on waterways and Jetties to commute between the Islands which were vulnerable to changing weather conditions.

Another important project was Velana International Airport upgrade and expansion project which has doubled its transport capability and will greatly promote the development of Maldivian tourism. The 17 km long link road in Laamu Link Road Project / China Link Road also commendable, which stretches across the longest dry land in Maldives, connects Gan, Maandhoo, Kadhdhoo and Fonadhoo.

China has supported the housing construction program in Maldives. Since 2010, it has built over 11,000 housing units, and contributed a lot to improving the living conditions of the local residents in the Maldives.

Chinese tourist market has become the third-largest market for Maldives tourism as of July 30. Before the pandemic, China had consistently been one of the top three strongest source markets for Maldives. China was the largest tourism contributor in 2019, recording an annual total of 284,029 arrivals, making up 17 percent of the total foreign tourist arrivals for that year.

Mohamed Muizzu attends the oath-taking ceremony at the Republic Square in Male, Maldives, Nov. 17, 2023. (Photo/Xinhua)

The recently held election, opposition candidate Mohamed Muizzu won the Maldives presidential runoff, securing more than 53 percent of the vote.

Facts show that close cooperation between China and Maldives has brought win-win cooperation to the Maldives and tangible benefits to the Maldivian people. Maldivians are eager for infrastructure development and economic improvements especially in their crucial tourism industry. The Chinese government encourages Chinese enterprises to help the Maldives promote the economic and social development through investment.

Even though Maldives’ domestic politics and foreign affairs have evolved around neighbouring countries, in this regard, it appears that Maldivians wanted win-win cooperation and tangible benefits in economic development, which China proved to be a trusted and reliable partner.


The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of China Focus.