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Business News/ News / World/  How did China strengthen its bond with Maldives amid India exit? 10 key collaborations between Male, Beijing

How did China strengthen its bond with Maldives amid India exit? 10 key collaborations between Male, Beijing

China has been helping Maldives in many ways to assist the island nation in dealing with water crisis, infrastructural development and “environmental protection work”.

The photo taken on January 10, 2024 shows Maldives' President Mohamed Muizzu (2nd L), his wife Sajidha Mohamed (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R) and his wife Peng Liyuan posing for photos during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AFP)Premium
The photo taken on January 10, 2024 shows Maldives' President Mohamed Muizzu (2nd L), his wife Sajidha Mohamed (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R) and his wife Peng Liyuan posing for photos during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AFP)

From providing military assistance to helping build infrastructure, China has been actively boosting its ties with the Maldives — which is seemingly trying to drift away from what many call India's "influence".

Ever since Mohamed Muizzu took over as the Maldives President, he has offered China many opportunities to invest in the island nation. Here's in 10 points how China has been helping Maldives in the past few months:

1. China's free military assistance

Earlier in March, China signed a defence cooperation agreement with the Maldives. As part of the deal, China would provide Maldives with free military assistance to foster "stronger" bilateral ties.

Maldives News Network had cited Mohamed Muizzu as saying that the Chinese government is ready to extend training to the Maldives army.

China may also provide non-lethal weaponry, including tear gas, pepper spray and similar articles of weapons, under a military grant, he added. He had said Maldives aims to become a self-sustaining sovereignty.

2. China gifts 12 eco-friendly ambulances

China has also gifted 12 eco-friendly ambulances to Maldives, news portal reported on Monday. The Maldives' Ministry of Health was quoted as saying that "these ambulances would contribute towards establishing faster response times in emergencies in the islands".

ALSO READ: Maldives snubs India over hydrographic survey deal after signing military pact with China

3. China donates 10 civil vehicles to Maldives

China recently donated 10 civil vehicles to the Maldives. These vehicles were donated by Shandong province of China to the Maldives on March 28.

"The vehicles are designed to be used for waste collection and other municipal purposes," a report in Maldivian news portal Edition said.

ALSO READ: Maldives welcomes China's military delegation amid retreat of Indian troops

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives Wang Lixin tweeted, “I believe those vehicles will help a lot in collecting waste & other public works in different cities and make Maldives a more beautiful place."

4. Deal with Chinese firm for environmental protection work

The Maldives government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese company China Tianying Inc. (CNTY) to collaborate on environmental protection efforts, reported.

Under the agreement, the focus will reportedly be laid on areas such as climate change, water and sanitation, energy, environmental protection, and low-carbon urban development.

As per the report, CNTY also plans to contribute to the Maldives' "socio-economic development leveraging its industrial and technological capabilities".

ALSO READ: 'China supports Maldives in...': What Beijing said as Indian troops begin withdrawing from island nation

5. China sends 1,500 tonnes of drinking water to Maldives

Maldivian media reported on March 27 that China "donated" 1,500 tonnes of drinking water to Maldives amid an acute water shortage.

Meanwhile, news agency PTI reported that the drinking water donated by China was from the glaciers in Tibet.

ALSO READ: Maldives purchases drones from Turkey for patrolling after inking deal with China

6. Major projects contracted to China's CMEC

It was reported on March 27 that the Maldives Housing Development Corporation contracted China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) with major projects in Hulhumale' Phase 3 under an agreement.

Maldives Republic reported that "the CMEC will develop critical physical structures, including a pipe-borne water supply, a comprehensive road network, sewerage facilities, and an electricity supply network".

ALSO READ: India slips to 6th rank on Maldives Tourism charts as President Mohamed Muizzu welcomes China

"The contract also stipulates the establishment of a Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON), which will provide advanced communications and internet services," the report added.

During Muizzu's China visit, CMEC was also given contracts for establishing municipal services in his eco-city project, RasMale', as well as in Gulhi Falhu, which was developed to provide a solution for housing needs by the previous administration, Edition reported.

7. China pledges lab equipment for 17 islands

Maldives Ministry of Health signed a Letter of Exchange with the Chinese government in a bid to source equipment for 17 laboratories.

The Maldives government reportedly said that this equipment would allow the provision of "firmer health services in these facilities while expediting treatment procedures and alleviating laboratory test operations".

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

As per reports, Maldives informed that procuring laboratory equipment for 72 islands across the country within the next five years has been arranged under this agreement.

8. China to build Malé city roads for free

China will develop Malé roads for free, Maldives Republic cited President Muizzu as saying on March 26. “China has now agreed to build all the roads in Malé free of charge," he was quoted as saying.

Earlier in February, Muizzu had mentioned his "promised" of making quality roads in all the cities and build major roads in islands. "The work of improving the roads in Male’ city will begin this year. A major portion of expenses for these projects will be covered by grant aid by the People's Republic of China," he had said.

ALSO READ: China ranks first on Maldives tourism list, where does India stand?

9. China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement

The Maldives President, in his February 5 speech, had said that the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement signed by Maldives with People's Republic of China "will provide a myriad number of benefits to Maldivian businesses and to the economy".

10. China's role in Maldives agricultural growth

On January 13, Muizzu announced that agreements to assist the Maldives in expanding agricultural growth to cater to food security were signed with the Chinese government.

A press release quoted the President as affirming that "the envisioned project would guarantee the cultivation of the most frequently utilised agricultural commodities sufficient for a minimum population of 200,000 individuals".

India exits Maldives

Soon after taking over the Maldives President, Muizzu had set a "(May 10) deadline for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel stationed within Maldivian territory". 

In March, reports claimed that 25 Indian troops deployed in the southernmost atoll of Addu had left Maldives. He had later declared that no Indian military personnel, including those in civilian attire, would be permitted in his country after May 10.

While announcing an agricultural deal with China in January, the President had said that "the Government would end its dependence on one country for imported staple foods such as rice, sugar, and flour."

In the first week of January, the row over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lakshwadeep visit had fueled the diplomatic row between the two countries.

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Published: 31 Mar 2024, 06:10 AM IST
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