Muizzu also said his Chinese counterpart President Xi puts the interest of citizens first and that China’s economy has reached new heights under his leadership
Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu has praised his country’s strategic relationship with China, saying the two countries respect each other and Beijing fully supports the Indian Ocean island’s sovereignty.
Mr. Muizzu’s comments came amid an unease in the Maldives’ bilateral ties with India after he took office in November last year.
Mr. Muizzu, who returned to the Maldives on Saturday after a high-profile state visit to Beijing at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, noted that China has provided assistance to the development of the Maldives since establishing diplomatic relations in 1972.
During his just-concluded visit to China, Mr. Muizzu, regarded as a pro-China leader, sought to align Maldives closer to Beijing and both countries elevated their ties to a strategic partnership.
He also said China’s Belt and Road Initiative has taken bilateral relations to a new level.
China is not a country that would interfere with the internal affairs of the Maldives, which is why the two countries have a strong relationship, Mr. Muizzu was quoted as saying in an interview with China’s state-run CGTN channel.
He added that the Maldives and China respect each other, and China fully supports Maldives’ sovereignty.
The President expressed his belief that the China-Maldives relations will continue to grow stronger in the future, the official PSM News quoted him as saying in the interview.
He also said his Chinese counterpart President Xi puts the interest of citizens first and that China’s economy has reached new heights under his leadership.
He added President Xi has assured him that the Chinese government will help the Maldives achieve its goals.
President Muizzu said his vision involves strengthening the economy of the Maldives and bringing progress in accordance with the expectations of the people.
He also said he wants to transform the Maldives into a country that works in harmony with other developed countries within the framework of his vision.
His remarks came amid a row between the Maldives and India over derogatory comments posted by three Deputy Ministers of the Muizzu government against Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading to a diplomatic row with India.
Mr. Muizzu suspended the three ministers after their social media postings, which stirred concern in India and calls for a boycott by Indian tourists who ranked highest in numbers followed by Russia. Chinese tourists figured third.
Mr. Muizzu has also asked India to withdraw its military personnel from his country by March 15.
According to the latest government figures, there are 88 Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives to help operate a Dornier aircraft and two helicopters provided by India.
Speaking to the press on Saturday after returning from China, President Muizzu indirectly attacked India.
Without naming any country, he said, “We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us.”
He also announced plans to reduce the country’s dependency on India, including securing imports of essential food commodities and medicine and consumables from other countries.
“We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state,” he said, addressing the reporters gathered at the Velana International Airport.
He said that no country has the right to exert influence over the domestic affairs of a country, regardless of its size.
He vowed that he would not allow any external influence on the domestic affairs of the Maldives.
Male is also reviewing more than 100 bilateral agreements with New Delhi signed by the previous government here.
Meanwhile, the government of Maldives has issued a statement, firmly backing China on the of Taiwan.
China views Taiwan as a rebel province that must be reunified with the mainland, even by force.
The victory of Lai Ching-te in Saturday’s presidential election is considered a setback for China’s efforts to bring Taiwan under its control. His Democratic Progressive Party advocates maintaining the status quo on the issue of reunification.
“The Maldives is firmly committed to the one-China principle, which remains the bedrock of the Maldives relations with China,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
The Maldives opposes “any statement or action that undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, opposes all “Taiwan independence” separatist activities, and will not develop any form of official relations with Taiwan,” according to the statement.
It added that the Maldives opposes “external interference in China’s internal affairs under any pretext and supports all efforts made by China to achieve national reunification.”