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Business News/ News / World/  India-Maldives row: President Mohamed Muizzu signs 20 agreements with China, including tourism co-operation
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India-Maldives row: President Mohamed Muizzu signs 20 agreements with China, including tourism co-operation

Regarded as a pro-China leader, Muizzu is visiting China amid tensions with India over derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Modi that led to a spate of cancellations of reservations by Indian tourists.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China January 10, 2024. cnsphoto via REUTERS (VIA REUTERS)Premium
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China January 10, 2024. cnsphoto via REUTERS (VIA REUTERS)

Amid a diplomatic row with India over derogatory remarks by his ministers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, who is on a five-day state visit to China, met President Xi Jinping on January 10 and signed 20 'key' agreements, including one on tourism cooperation.

Mohamed Muizzu, along with his wife Sajida Mohammad, was even accorded a red carpet welcome and a 21-gun salute in Beijing. After the two leaders held talks, they announced the elevation of their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

"20 key agreements were signed today between the Government of the Maldives and the Government of China this afternoon and both the Presidents witnessed the signing ceremony," Maldivian President's office said in a post on X.

The agreements signed included tourism cooperation, disaster risk reduction, blue economy and strengthening investment in the digital economy. China will also provide grant assistance to the Maldives, but the amount was not disclosed.

ALSO READ: India-Maldives row: ‘China one of our best allies’, Maldives President Muizzu urges Beijing to send more tourists

The agreements also included jointly accelerating the formulation of the Cooperation Plan on the Belt and Road Initiative, social housing project on Fushidhiggaru Falhu, fisheries products processing factories and the re-development of Male’ and Villimale’ Roads Development Projects.

Regarded as a pro-China leader, Muizzu is visiting China amid the tensions with India over derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Modi that led to a spate of cancellations of reservations by Indian tourists.

Muizzu is also expected to meet Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other senior officials before his return to Male on January 12.

He reached Beijing last night after staying in the Chinese city of Fujian for two days.

In an address to the Maldives Business Forum in Fujian Province on Tuesday, Muizzu appealed to China to "intensify" efforts to send more tourists to his country.

"China was our (Maldives') number one market (for tourism) pre-Covid, and it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position," he said.

Muizzu in his speech praised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects launched by Xi Jinping in 2014, saying that they “delivered the most significant infrastructure projects witnessed in Maldivian history".

Meanwhile, Maldivian media reported that the two countries have signed a USD 50 million project to develop an integrated tourism zone on the Indian Ocean island, PTI reported.

China's bilateral trade in 2022 totalled $451.29 million of which China’s exports constituted $451.29 million against $60,000 of exports from the Maldives.

Muizzu also sought investments from Chinese companies for 11 projects at the Maldives Investment Forum.

India Maldives economy factor:

According to data released by the Maldives Tourism Ministry earlier, India has remained the largest tourist market for the country in 2023.

The highest number of visitors to the Maldives were from India, with 209,198 arrivals, followed by Russia in second place with 209,146 arrivals, and China in third place with 187,118 arrivals.

Muizzu also said that China remains "one of our closest allies and development partners."

With agency inputs.

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Published: 10 Jan 2024, 06:03 PM IST
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