Chinese Foregin Minister Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Maldives on a two-day visit to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Maldives diplomatic relations. During the visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang will meet Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih as well as Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid – who is also the chair of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The two countries plan to sign several documents of cooperation.The Chinese Embassy in Maldives tweeted, “Looking forward, the upcoming visit of State Counselor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will enhance high-level exchanges, deepen practical cooperation in all fields and promote future-oriented cooperation between the two countries.” Will help to further the steady development of all-round friendly and cooperative partnership.
Chinese State Councillor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi has arrived in Maldives on a two-day official visit. Foreign Minister @Adulla_Shahid and other high-level officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received him at VIA. Chinese Ambassador Wang Lixin also greeted him at VIA. pic.twitter.com/97ZzcaSDAn
— Embassy of China in Maldives (@ChinaEmbassy_MV) January 7, 2022
The visit to Male assumes significance as it comes at the time of the India Out campaign launched again by opposition leader and former President Abdulla Yameen, who was released from prison in November. Yameen has alleged that President Solih has allowed the entry of the Indian Army, which affects the sovereignty of the country. The government has denied allegations of the presence of Indian forces.
Despite his release from prison, opposition leader Abdullah Yameen is facing several other cases of bribery and money laundering during his tenure as president. MPs in the current administration say that their acquittal has been possible due to technical grounds and poor investigation. Not because Abdullah is acquitted of Yameen charges.
Abdullah Yameen is known to be close to China and has invited Beijing to invest heavily in his country, leading to allegations that the small archipelago is now heavily indebted to China. The Strait Times says Beijing owes more than $1 billion to Male, while its total debt, according to the World Bank, is $5.6 billion.
Chinese Belt and Road Initiative
Maldives is a part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which connects the world through road, rail and port projects for ease of doing business. However, many BRI countries such as Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Kenya find themselves with poor economic health, rising debt and low standards of living for their people.
More assistance offered to Male
Experts say that Chinese Foregin Minister Wang can offer Male more support, in addition to launching more projects.India will be watching Wang’s visit with enthusiasm as the two South Asian nations have managed to re-establish ties after President Solih snatched power from Yameen.
To ensure that the Indian Ocean islands remain within India’s sphere of influence, New Delhi made a global effort to support the candidature of Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid for the presidency of the UNGA in 2021. The two South Asian countries have also cooperated on defense and security matters.
Wang’s visit comes just a day after India released funds for eight high impact community development projects to the Maldives. A local news website reported that the eight projects included the construction of buildings, an ice-factory and a cultural centre. Projects directly impacting local people
Because these are related to the purchase of ambulances, providing education as well as installation of street lights. After the conclusion of his Male visit, Wang will fly to Sri Lanka, as China makes renewed efforts to strengthen ties with the South Asian countries.
Over the years, New Delhi has made delayed but successful attempts to improve relations with Sri Lanka in an effort to balance Chinese influence with both the Maldives and Sri Lanka.