The under-construction China Maldives Friendship Bridge is pictured near the city of Male on Feb 8, 2018. (AFP)
MALE - The Chinese Embassy in the Maldives has refuted claims by former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed that China had been engaged in "land grabbing" in the Maldivian Islands.
The false remarks such as "island grabbing," "occupation of land" and "undermining the security of the region" seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and are completely contrary to the actual situation
Yang Yin, spokeswoman of Chinese embassy in the Maldives
Spokeswoman of the Chinese embassy Yang Yin said in a statement on Tuesday that the cooperation between China and Maldives was in the interests of both sides which could not be denigrated by one-sided individual remarks.
"In recent years, China and the have conducted a series of mutually beneficial livelihood projects in the principle of mutual respect and equality. The hardworking Chinese employees work day and night to help the Maldivians further upgrade their infrastructure and improve livelihood so as to realize the mutual benefit and win-win cooperation," she said.
Yang added the economic and social development of the Maldives had made remarkable progress and the living standards of the people had been improved, which the international community including China was happy to see.
"The false remarks such as 'island grabbing,' 'occupation of land' and 'undermining the security of the region' seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and are completely contrary to the actual situation," Yang said.
Yang explained that according to recent public statistics, foreign companies from 30 countries had invested in 124 tourist islands in the Maldives during the past four years.
Chinese companies have planned to invest no more than seven tourist islands in the Maldives, ranking sixth among all foreign investments, and accounting for only 5.65 percent of total number of investment projects.
As per available data source, Chinese companies are only involved in a few number of tourist resorts islands in operation among over 100 tourist islands in the Maldives.
"The information which Mr Nasheed mentioned is seriously inconsistent with the basic fact," Yang said.
"China has conducted friendly and mutual-beneficial cooperation with current and previous governments of the Maldives. The cooperation like housing projects and Lamuu link road already started during the tenure of Mr Nasheed. It is believed that Mr. Nasheed himself has the personal experience to the benefits brought by the China-Maldives cooperation to the people of the Maldives," she added.
China and the Maldives have jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative under the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, which has benefited the people of the two countries.
Yang said the Chinese side will steadily move forward the construction of major project, including China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, according to the consensus reached between leaders of the two countries.
"The Chinese side sincerely hopes Mr Nasheed to have a clear picture of the situation and view China-Maldives cooperation in an objective, fair and balanced way, and stop making false remarks."
Yang further explained the Chinese side regards what happens now in the Maldives falls within its internal affairs and the international community should play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the Maldives' sovereignty.
The Maldives has been facing days of unrest after the Supreme Court issued a ruling earlier this month to release top opposition political leaders, including former President Nasheed and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb. The court rescinded the ruling later.