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China Congratulates New Maldives President Ibrahim Solih, Wants Him To Support BRI, FTA

Last year, former president Abdullah Yameen had declared that the development partnership between Maldives and China had reached a new high point and that the latter was Maldives’ “closest development and commercial partner”.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:September 25, 2018, 11:36 PM IST
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China Congratulates New Maldives President Ibrahim Solih, Wants Him To Support BRI, FTA
China called for "continuity and stability" in the Maldives after Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the leader of an opposition that has vowed to review Chinese projects, defeated incumbent president Abdulla Yameen in a weekend election. (Image: Reuters)
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New Delhi: A day after Maldives elected opposition candidate Ibrahim Solih as its next President, China on Thursday said that it was willing to work with the island nation to implement the Free Trade Agreement.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that the two countries enjoyed a traditional friendship and that in recent years, the two had cooperated for mutual benefits under Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

“We are willing to work with Maldives to consolidate our traditional friendship and deepen our cooperation to benefit both the nations,” Shuang said.

Maldives opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who fought a bitter election campaign against President Abdulla Yameen, won Sunday’s presidential vote.

Congratulating Solih, Shuang added that China hoped the new government would respect the Free Trade Agreement that was signed between both countries during Yameen’s tenure.

“We hope Maldives will maintain consistency and stability of the policy, expand trade and investment cooperation and further benefit the two countries,” he further said.

Maldives is an integral part of the Asian giant’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has come under critical lens around the world as much as it has been appreciated.

Exiled leader of the opposition in the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has said that China's actions in the Indian Ocean archipelago amounted to a "land grab" and "colonialism", with 80 per cent of its debt held by Beijing.

Last year, Yameen had declared that the development partnership between Maldives and China had reached a new high point and that the latter was Maldives’ “closest development and commercial partner”.

The statement came as Maldives signed a Free Trade Agreement with China. Under the FTA, Maldives waived off visa requirements for Chinese and also gave them a free hand in operating goods and services in Maldives all through the year and vice-versa.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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