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H.E. Ambassador Zhang Lizhong's Speech delivered on Forum on China-Maldives Tourism Cooperation

Deepening Tourism Cooperation

Promoting People-to-People Bonds

Realizing Win-win Achievements in China-Maldives Mutual Beneficial Cooperation

Speech on Forum on China-Maldives Tourism Cooperation

by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Lizhong

(July 3rd, Kurumba, Maldives)


Honorable Mr. Zamir, Minister of Tourism of Maldives,

Honorable Mr. Du Jiang, Member of Leadership of Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China,

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentleman, dear Friends,

Today, we gather here in the beautiful Maldives to join the Forum on China-Maldives Tourism Cooperation. This forum is the first event co-organized by the tourism ministries of our two countries. It’s an important measure to implement the consensus of the two leaders and deepen the cooperation in various fields including tourism. The forum is significant to develop bilateral relationship and deepen the China-Maldives traditional friendship.

China-Maldives friendship dates back a long time. In recent years, China-Maldives relationship develops rapidly, and has become a model of equality, harmonious interaction and win-win cooperation between big and small counties. In September 2014, H.E. President Xi Jinping paid a historical State Visit to Maldives. The relationship of the two countries entered into a new era. During this visit, the two leaders agreed to build the China-Maldives Future-Oriented All-round Friendly and Cooperative Partnership, and conduct mutual beneficial cooperation in all fields under the framework of 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. In December 2017, H.E. President Yameem paid a return visit to China.

This year is the fifth year of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping. In last five years, fruitful achievements have been achieved in China and the countries along the route. The Belt and Road Initiative has become the most popular international public product and the most promising international economy cooperation platform. The core of the Belt and Road Initiative is to promote infrastructures and connectivity, integrate policies and development strategies of the counties, deepen the practical cooperation, promote coordinated development to achieve common prosperity. The Belt and Road Initiative adheres to the principle of widely consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit, and its core idea is open, inclusive and win-win cooperation. It was initiated by China but shared by all countries.

Important phased achievements have been achieved gradually in China-Maldives mutual beneficial practical cooperation under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative. A batch of social-economical and livelihood-improving big development projects have taken rooted and blossomed, including China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, the upgrading and expansion of Velena International Airport, and 7000 apartments housing project in Hulhumale. With joint efforts, China-Maldives Friendship Bridge will be completed this month and will be officially opened to traffic in the second half of this year. The upgrading and expansion of Velena International Airport runway is almost completed with a scheduled test flight at the end of August. The 16 buildings of 7000 apartments housing project of Hulhumale Phase II is under construction and 8 buildings will be completed at the end of this year. The link road between Hulhule and Hulhumale is in progress orderly and will be put into use in the second half of the year.

The cooperation priorities of the Belt and Road Initiative focus on people-to-people bonds as well as infrastructure and connectivity. The exchanges and cooperation in the fields of the economy, culture, education, sports, and health between China and Maldives are more frequent, entering the fast track of comprehensive development. Every year, the Chinese side provides several hundred training opportunities for Maldivian civil servants from administrative, judiciary and law enforcement departments. Dozens of scholarships are provided for Maldivian young students to study in China. The signing of the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement marks a new stage in the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. The programs like “One Hundred of Maldivian Youth Visiting China”, ”Bright Journey Medical Team in Maldives”, China-aid sea ambulance, Chinese volunteer teachers, and aiding sport coaches are directly serving the Maldivians, making the bilateral cooperation more visible and touchable, so that the people have a better sense of gaining from the bilateral cooperation. Tourism cooperation is also an important part of China-Maldives mutual beneficial cooperation. China has been the largest source of tourists in Maldives for eight consecutive years and more than 300,000 Chinese tourists visit Maldives each year.

China-Maldives mutual beneficial cooperation has brought concrete benefits to the Maldivian people, and completely accords with the common interest of the people of our two countries. This current situation does not come by easily and China-Maldives relationship should be developed on the right stable track by the continuous support and safeguard of the Maldivian people from all walks of life. China-Maldives mutual benefit cooperation fully respects the willing of the Maldivian government and people, and fully takes the local development needs into consideration without any affiliated political conditions. It’s mutual beneficial, open and inclusive as well as transparent. I want to announce here that the numbers of resorts developed by Chinese enterprises in Maldives is no more than seven. Chinese enterprises only involved in the operations of few resorts, which are completely normal investments. The total cost of China-Maldives Friendship Bridge is 1.26 billion RMB, and 57.5% of the cost is grant by the Chinese government, 36.1% is preferential loan from Chinese government and 6.4% is from the Maldivian side. China-Maldives mutual benefit cooperation adheres to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits as well as the market rules and international common rules. The allegations of “land grabbing” and “debt trap” are totally groundless.

Dear colleagues, friends,

China-Maldives mutual benefit cooperation is just thriving and China-Maldives tourism cooperation is promising with broad prospects. We gather here today to review the achievements jointly gained by China and Maldives under Belt and Road Initiative, to look into the future cooperation, discuss and share experiences of success. Driven by the joint construction of Belt and Road Initiative by our two countries, I believe that China-Maldives tourism cooperation will go further and better. Wish the China-Maldives Cooperation Forum a complete success.

Thank you.

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