On Jan. 8-12, Mohamed Muizzu paid his visit to China as president of the Maldives, marking a fresh starting point for China-Maldives relations.
This year is also of special significance for bilateral ties as it marks the 10th anniversary of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s historic state visit to the Maldives in 2014.
During Muizzu’s China visit, the two heads of state announced that bilateral relations would be upgraded to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, a new starting point for China-Maldives cooperation.
The two Asian nations are expected to see a leap-frog development of their bilateral relations and enable their people to enjoy more win-win dividends from bilateral cooperation.
The China-Maldives friendship goes back a long way. In the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese navigator Zheng He, with fleets of ships, made it to the Maldives twice. Maldivian King Yusof also sent envoys to China on three different occasions.
The island country was also an important stop on the ancient Maritime Silk Road. Ancient Chinese porcelain and coins unearthed in the Maldives are historical witnesses to the friendly exchanges between the two countries.
Over the past 52 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Maldives, the two countries have always respected and supported each other, setting a model for large and small countries to treat each other on an equal footing for mutual benefit and win-win results.
During President Xi’s state visit to the Maldives in September 2014, the two sides agreed to establish a future-oriented all-around friendly and cooperative partnership, steering the development of ties on a fast track.
Nearly a decade later, Muizzu’s visit to China has once again brought bilateral relations to a new height. The two sides will take this opportunity to jointly build a China-Maldives community with a shared future.
The two sides now enjoy growing political mutual trust. While Muizzu re-emphasized that the Maldivian government firmly adheres to the one-China policy and supports the Chinese side in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, China expressed its respect and support for the Maldives in exploring the development path that suits its national conditions.
Deepened trust catalyzes flourishing cooperation. Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge and the Hulhumale housing project undertaken by China have been completed, benefiting the economic and social development of the Maldives and the local people.
More cooperation documents were signed during Muizzu’s visit to China, covering such areas as joint BRI cooperation, economic and technological development, the blue economy, the digital economy, green development, infrastructure and livelihood assistance.
Since China resumed outbound tourism, the number of Chinese tourists to the Maldives has been on a rapid rise, accelerating the recovery of the Maldives’ tourism industry. Statistics from the Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism show that in 2023, the country received a total of about 187,000 Chinese tourists, and that in 2024, the number of Chinese tourists is expected to return to the top of the list.
Resurgent tourism is the epitome of the closer people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. In 2023, the China-Maldives mutual visa exemption agreement came into force, further facilitating personnel exchanges between the two countries.
During Muizzu’s visit, China said it would add more direct flights between the two countries and accommodate more outstanding Maldivian students to study in China, and the Maldivian side welcomed such positive measures to promote people-to-people exchanges and expects more Chinese tourists to visit the Maldives.
Looking ahead, relations between the two countries, which have stood the test of time, are bound to open a new and more brilliant chapter.