Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid has said that China has been a generous donor to the Maldives.
He said in an interview with “The Hindu”, during his recent visit to India to attend the 6th India-Maldives Joint Commission Meeting.
Minister Shahid said that peace in the Indian Ocean is vital for the stability of the Maldives and that Maldives would not let other countries bring their disputes to the Indian Ocean.
“For us, the freedom of navigation, the total concept of the Indo-Pacific strategy is paramount, and we are fully part of it. In Washington this year, I assured Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that we will play our role as the heart of the Indian Ocean”, said Minister Shahid.
When questioned about the issue of Chinese loans to the Maldives, he said that China has been a generous donor to the Maldives which has invested in infrastructure and housing projects in the country. However, he said that irresponsible borrowing was done by the previous government, which is currently being dealt by the government of President Solih.
Shahid said that the current government has a bone to pick with the previous government and to deal with the debt that Maldives faces, more practically.
“That is why we are working and talking with everyone”.
While Minister Shahid has maintained a stance that China is an important development partner of the Maldives, Speaker of the People’s Majlis President Mohamed Nasheed has taken a completely different stance. He argued recently that Chinese developmental loans to the Maldives are “debt traps”, and that the parliament would not go ahead with the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement.