Known as “a string of pearls that God left in the human world” and with its simple and warm-hearted people and picturesque scenery, Maldives is a magnet attracting tourists from around the world. But hearing it one hundred times from others is not as good as seeing it once, and I look forward to visiting your beautiful island country on the Indian Ocean.
The friendly exchanges between China and Maldives have a long history. As early as in China’s Ming Dynasty, the famous Chinese navigator Zheng He twice called at Maldives with his expedition fleet, and King Yusof of Maldives sent his envoys to China three times. Today, ancient Chinese porcelain ware and coins unearthed locally are on display in the National Museum in Malé, which bear witness to the friendly interactions between the two countries.
In 1972, China and Maldives established diplomatic relations. In the 40-plus years since then, our two countries have always respected, trusted and supported each other, setting a good example of countries different in size treating each other as equals, living in amity and engaging in mutually beneficial cooperation. Recent years have seen growing exchanges in various fields and enhanced practical cooperation between the two countries. Two-way trade and particularly tourism have grown rapidly. China has been the largest source of tourists for Maldives for four years running. To the Chinese, especially the young people, Maldives is an ideal holiday destination and a romantic retreat. China has endeavored to assist Maldives in growing its economy and improving people’s livelihood. All this shows that China and Maldives are not only sincere friends who trust and help each other, we are also partners in the common pursuit of development and prosperity.
As an old Chinese poem puts it, “The river is wide at full tide; a strong wind sends the sail surging forward.” China-Maldives relations are now on a new upward trajectory and face major opportunities. We should seize the opportunities and keep the momentum of our growing relations, boost our traditional friendship, intensify cooperation in various fields, and lift China-Maldives relations to a new height.
China and Maldives should strengthen political mutual trust. China appreciates the Maldivian government’s commitment to the one China policy and its abiding and valuable support to China on issues affecting China’s core interests. China always stands for equality of all countries, whether big or small. China will, as always, respect the choice of the political system and development path made by the Maldivian people in light of your national conditions.
China and Maldives should intensify practical cooperation. China calls for the creation of a 21st century maritime silk road. Strategically located in the Indian Ocean, Maldives was an important stop of the ancient maritime silk road. China welcomes Maldives to get actively involved in building the 21st century maritime silk road by leveraging its own strength. China looks forward to working with Maldives to speedily translate this cooperation initiative into reality so as to boost the development and prosperity of all countries and the rise of Asia.
China and Maldives should boost cultural and people-to-people exchanges. After Fascinating Maldives, a program produced by China Central Television station, was aired in China, more and more Chinese tourists have been attracted to Maldives by its coconut trees, clear waters and quiet beaches. China also welcomes more Maldivians to go to China for sightseeing and study. Our two governments should further facilitate travel exchanges and our airline companies should open more routes. With these efforts, we will feel close even when we are thousands of miles away from each other.
China and Maldives should enhance coordination on multilateral issues. Maldives is an important partner of China in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. China will continue to pursue close cooperation with Maldives on climate change, human rights and other issues. China hopes that Maldives will have a greater say and play a unique role in international and regional affairs.
The ship of China-Maldives friendship has set sail. I am confident that with our joint efforts, it will brave winds and waves and forge ahead toward an even brighter future.