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Friday, August 31, 2018, 11:14
China-Maldives Friendship Bridge inaugurated in Male
By Wen Zongduo in Male, Maldives
Friday, August 31, 2018, 11:14 By Wen Zongduo in Male, Maldives

This aerial view shows the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, which joins the capital city of Male with the airport island, on Aug 24, 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF XU FUDI)

A life-changing cross-sea bridge built with Chinese aid goes into the history of island nation Maldives on Thursday as a “gateway to tomorrow” in the eyes of the nation’s leader.

“Today, the impossible is possible,” said President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom while addressing an opening ceremony in its capital Male before leading vehicles through the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge linking its two most important islands.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom addresses the opening ceremony of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, in Male, capital of Maldives, Aug 30, 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DU CAILIANG)

Dazzling light beams and festive fireworks shooting up from the bridge sent thousands of local people and tourists to cheers and excitement at shoreside, embankments, view platforms, and roofs in Male. People thronged the white-sand beach watching the lighted bridge deep into the night.

The bridge is a dream come true for former Minister of Construction of the Maldives, Umar Zahir, whose generation went through rejections by builders who found a bridge impossible to construct before the Chinese success. 

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This Aug 30, 2018 photo shows the fireworks display at the opening ceremony of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, in Male, capital of Maldives. (PHOTO COURTESY OF XU FUDI)

President Yameen also outlined how he and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement on the project during Xi’s visit here in September 2014. Amid the fireworks displays were “Thank You” words to both presidents.

This Aug 30, 2018 photo shows the fireworks display above the main gate of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, in Male, capital of Maldives. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WANG CHAO)

The bridge is a landmark for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road under President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative. The bridge is also a new symbol for continued friendship between the two peoples and a new start in bilateral relations

Wang Xiaotao, Chinese government special envoy

Connecting the capital city with the airport island Hulhule under a China Aid program, the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge is a landmark for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road under President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, said Chinese government special envoy Wang Xiaotao. 

“The bridge is also a new symbol for continued friendship between the two peoples and a new start in bilateral relations,” said Wang, also head of China’s State International Development Cooperation Agency. The China-Maldives cooperation will continue to serve the common interests of two peoples, he said.

Thanks to these projects of cooperation, even a girl from the remotest isle of the archipelago could fulfil her dream for a better future fulfilled, Yameen said. Such cooperation “will deliver more benefits to the people”, with “hopes for life and prosperity ensured”, he said.

As a world-class tourist resort, Maldives consists of islands scattered across ocean. Traffic among islands has been entirely dependent on ships and seaplanes. Better connection of roads has been driven by rising needs of the core economic circle of Greater Male, the airport island Hulhule’ as a transportation hub and the Youth City Hulhumale.

Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Mohamed Muizzu, who, has overseen the construction regularly and praised Chinese speed and precision in operation, showed his appreciation to Chinese aid and favorable loan, which are nearly half and half of the more than 90 percent share of total cost, in his speech at the ceremony.

The project is organized and implemented by Agency for International Economic Cooperation of Ministry of Commerce of China. CCCC Highway Consultants Co Ltd involves as the project management company and CCCC Second Harbour Engineering Co Ltd as the engineering procurement construction contractor, responsible for construction.

Chinese government special envoy Wang Xiaotao speaks at the opening ceremony of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, in Male, capital of Maldives, Aug 30, 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DU CAILIANG)

Crossing the Gaadhoo Strait now is a six-span composite V-shaped rigid frame bridge totaling 1,390 meters, including 760 meters of main bridge. With a designed service life-span of 100 years, it is full of challenges during construction, said Cheng Duoyun, chief engineer of the bridge project from CCCC SHEC.

“The project has achieved key technical breakthroughs as a pioneer in the construction of super-large bridges under deep and exposed ocean environments with a coral reef geology,” said project leader Wang Chao. 

The opening ceremony of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, in Male, Maldives, is held on Aug 30, 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF DU CAILIANG)

“All SHEC participants carry forward the spirit of dedication and courage in the new era and overcome various unfavorable factors on site.”

Construction results have been evaluated as “Excellent” in each appraisal organized by the Agency of International Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce.

Local people watch the illuminated bridge after the opening ceremony of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, in Male, capital of Maldives, Aug 30, 2018. (WEN ZONGDUO / CHINA DAILY)

The project, though implemented according to the Chinese standards, specifications, technology and management, has incorporated rich elements of Islamic architecture, said SHEC spokesman Xie Bihao. The three V-shaped piers like soaring seagulls merge well with local marine environment. 

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According to Chinese Ambassador to Maldives Zhang Lizhong, the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge project follows the principle of “Construction, Contribution and Shared Benefits” as a Belt and Road Initiative program constructed jointly by Chinese Maldivian sides. The program brings new vigor and vitality into the development of China-Maldives relations.

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