بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
Madam Shen Yueyue, Vice Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Senior officials of the Chinese Government, Honorable Minister, Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corp, our Chinese friends, Ladies and Gentleman;
Though Beijing is in the grip of mid-winter coldness, your presence here and the great love you have for my country warms my heart. Thank you all for attending this reception where we are celebrating the friendship between our two countries.
It is a matter of great happiness for me and my wife to be at this reception to commemorate and celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Maldives and China. Forty-five years ago, one of the smallest members of the global community signed an agreement with one of the world’s biggest to establish bilateral relations based on mutual trust, common development aspirations and respect. Since that day in October 1972, the relationship between our two countries has grown in leaps and bounds.
It is a happy co-incidence that my State Visit to China falls in the year we are celebrating this happy milestone. I have had the opportunity to visit China two times over the past four years. But this is my first visit to Beijing. The ancient city of Beijing with its 3000-year-old history is indeed the jewel of China’s crown. It is a city where the old and the modern comes juxtaposes showcasing the rich and diverse cultural heritage of China, and the progress made by the Chinese people and the State under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.
At this juncture let me congratulate President Xi Jinping, the Government and the people of China on the successful conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. The National Congress has indeed cemented President Xi Jinping’s vision for the development of China with strong commitment to win-win international partnerships. I am confident that with President Xi Jinping at core of the party, China is on the right path to achieve its two centenary goals bringing prosperity to the Chinese people.
Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Today, China is Maldives’ closest development and commercial partner. Over the past four years the development partnership between the two countries has reached a new high point. President Xi Jinping’s historic State Visit to Maldives in 2014 was a watershed moment in this regard. I have many happy memories of our meetings during his visit, and our discussions and agreements to forge a partnership of Future Oriented All-Round Friendly Cooperative Ties.
The ground-breaking infrastructure projects launched after the visit, including the construction of the friendship bridge between Male’ and Hulhule’ and the construction of a new runway are being undertaken in earnest. When these two projects are completed in 2018, they will stand as visible symbols of the everlasting friendship between our two countries.
I take this opportunity to thank President Xi Jinping, the Government and the people of China for their generous assistance towards the socio-economic development of the Maldives.
Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen;
The Maldivian and Chinese people have been in contact for centuries. Lying in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Maldives has always been an important transit point in maritime travel. A number of Chinese travelers have visited our shores during their journeys of discovery and trade expeditions to the West. The most famous of those is the great Chinese Muslim admiral, diplomat and explorer Zheng He who visited the Maldives on more than one occasion during the 15th Century. Evidence of the frequent interactions and transactions between our Chinese and Maldivian forefathers can be found today at the National Museum in Male’, in the form of beautiful pieces of ancient Chinese earthenware and pottery.
Today, it is the millions of Chinese tourists that maintain the important and vital link between our two people. Chinese holidaymakers account for over a third of annual tourism arrivals in the Maldives. While contributing to the growth of the tourism industry, these holiday makers also contribute towards enhancing our relations, deepening our trust and understanding between our two countries.
The Maldives is going through a key moment in its history. In 2013, together with my people I embarked upon a historic and ambitious nation-building project. A project that was necessary to transform Maldives economically and socially for us to be able to face the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. We have come a long way as a nation since our independence in 1965. We have made remarkable economic and social progress on the back of our world-class tourism industry and enterprising nature of our people. However, to achieve the true aspirations and desires of our people, particularly our huge youth population, we need to find creative and sustainable ways to enhance our economic base, create more opportunities for gainful employment and provide livelihood opportunities for people across the country. I am happy that China is making valuable contributions in this new phase of the Maldives’ development.
The true worth of friendship is in being able to understand and contribute. In this regard we consider China to be one of our truest friends. China understands our development needs and our aspirations. China also understands, that as a nation, the solutions to our problems can only be homegrown and that sometimes we need the space to look inward and chart our own progress. In the past 45 years, and particularly in the past four years, we have forged ahead, keeping these fundamental truths foremost in our minds. And that is the true essence of our partnership.
I thank you all for your great love for our country, and invite you all to come and experience the never ending summers in the Maldives.
Zhong ma you yi wan sui (Long live friendship between our two countries)
Zhong ma he zou wan sui (Long live partnership between our two countries)