Your Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, Honourable Members of the Chinese delegation, Excellencies, Members of the Press Corp, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Maldivian people join me in celebrating this historic State Visit by Your Excellency and Madam Peng. We extend to you our warmest greetings and sincere good wishes.
I am honoured to receive Your Excellency in the Maldives, exactly a month after our first meeting, on the sides of the 2nd Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
As we near the completion of 42 years of bilateral relations, there had indeed been numerous high points in Sino-Maldives ties in recent years. As of 2007, the Maldives has a full-fledged Embassy in Beijing, and Male’ has, since 2011, been hosting a Chinese Embassy.
Numerous high level visits had been exchanged over the years, including two State Visits to China by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in 1984 and 2006, and an Official Visit to the Maldives by Premier Zhu Rongji in 2001. However, Your Excellency’s current visit to the Maldives is the very first by a Chinese Head of State, and hence an unprecedented high point in our bilateral relations. We are, indeed, deeply honoured!
The Maldives recently became only the second country to graduate from the list of LDCs. For us, graduation, even with a smooth transition period, has come with enormous challenges. As a Small Island Developing State, we are at a disadvantageous position in global commerce and trade. Our socioeconomic development forecast changed dramatically with the status of a Middle Income Country.
At such a crucial juncture in our development, it is indeed a source of major encouragement that one of our most trusted economic partners is willing to support our national effort to transform our economy, bring happiness to our youthful population and promote trade and investment.
We are honoured that you decided to begin your important tour of this region here in the Maldives.
The Maldives and China enjoy excellent bilateral relations and development cooperation, based on mutual trust and understanding and strengthened by people-to-people exchanges at all levels.
It will be an understatement to simply say that China is important to the Maldives, and that the Government of Maldives values its relations with Your Excellency’s administration.
The vivid imprint of Chinese cooperation assistance is unmistakable in our socioeconomic development, in a plethora of fields ranging from infrastructure, housing, culture and sports, among a number of other areas.
I and President Xi have just concluded very fruitful interactions, both one-to-one and together with high level delegations from our respective countries.
During the Official Talks, we explored avenues for future cooperation, designed to take our relations to a higher plane.
- I wish to express my sincere appreciation to President Xi for expressing China’s willingness to enhance the provision of development assistance to the Maldives, especially towards mega development projects inked in my presidential manifesto such as the Male’-Hulhule’ Bridge.
- The Maldives is honoured to now feature among China’s partners in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road – a unique vision of President Xi, which will bring Asian neighbours closer together.
- We agreed to deepen cooperation in trade and commerce.
- Following extensive discussions on various issues of mutual interest during the Official Talks, President Xi and I also had the pleasure a short while ago to witness the signing of a number of important bilateral and corporate agreements between the two countries, including agreements and memorandums of understanding on promoting the construction of the Male’-Hulhule’ Bridge Project, health cooperation, establishing the Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation, marine cooperation, and strengthening cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and on the establishment of a Joint Meeting Mechanism on Dealing with the Issue of Safety of Chinese Tourists in the Maldives.
- We also agreed today to expand already strong cooperation on tourism and hospitality. My sincere wish is to increase Chinese tourist arrival numbers to the Maldives by at least three-fold in the next four years.
We decided at the Official Talks that, in order to implement our shared vision and desire to advance bilateral relations and socioeconomic development cooperation, China and the Maldives would forge a “Future-Oriented All-Round Friendly and Cooperative Partnership”. This partnership will emphasise our collective vision for future cooperation, including advocating – as the Maldives continues to do – the “One China Policy” and the “5 Principals of Peaceful Coexistence”.
The Maldives commends China’s pre-eminence in global politics, and, therefore, will continue to wholeheartedly support Chinese initiatives in important areas such as the fight against terrorism, reforming the United Nations and tackling the scourge of climate change.
I also had the pleasure, a short while ago, of joining the Chinese President in launching two important development projects funded by China and implemented by Chinese corporations.
I sincerely hope that President Xi, Madam Peng and the members of the delegation have a pleasant stay in the Maldives.
Please accept, Mr. President, my sincere wishes for your personal good health. I hope you have a successful tour of Asia. I am confident that this is the beginning of an era of heightened and sustained cooperation between the Maldives and China.
I thank you.