A diplomatic dispute erupted when Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu asked China to “intensify” its efforts to bring in more visitors due to disparaging comments made by his ministers regarding Prime Minister Modi. At the Fujian province’s Maldives Business Forum, Mohamed Muizzu referred to China as the island nation’s “closest” ally.
“China remains one of our closest allies and development partners,” he said, praising Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects launched by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2014. The project “delivered the most significant infrastructure projects witnessed in Maldivian history”, he added.
“China was our (Maldives’) number one market pre-Covid, and it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position,” he averred.
According to reports, the two nations have agreed to invest USD 50 million toward the creation of an integrated tourism zone in the Maldives. This occurs after statements made by certain Maldivian ministers criticizing Prime Minister Modi’s post-visit to Lakshadweep sparked a diplomatic spat between the two nations. The remarks were sharply denounced by the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), and all three deputy ministers were suspended.
Known as a pro-China leader, Mohamed Muizzu stated in his address that his administration’s main goals are to secure economic security and diversify the Maldives’ economy. He also emphasized the need to swiftly execute the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that China and the United States concluded in December 2014.
He adressed, “The FTA’s aim to boost bilateral trade and investments, especially increasing our export of fish products to China is a key priority for us through the FTA.”
At the Maldives Investment Forum, the president also asked Chinese businesses to invest in 11 projects, which included building 15 additional airports, moving the Male Commercial Port to Thilafushi, and developing Velana International Airport.