Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid is seen during an interview with Xinhua in Male, Maldives, Dec. 27, 2018. (Xinhua/Tang Lu)
The Maldives' new government is looking forward to strengthening ties with China, Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid told Xinhua on Thursday.
The new government's foreign policy is to strengthen relations with all countries who respect the Maldives and its people, and the new administration under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih aims to establish an international system where rules of law and international best practices are respected, said the foreign minister.
"The Maldives is a very important country and an ocean state in the Indian Ocean. We have been a friend to all countries in the region as well as outside the region. And we want to continue that policy," Shahid said.
Speaking on the Maldives-China ties, Shahid said during his political career, he has seen the relationship between China and the Maldives grow increasingly strong, and he hoped this would continue.
"China is the fastest growing economy in the world. All our neighbors are engaging themselves with China. The largest economies in the world are engaging with China. We will not be left behind in engaging with China," he said.
Shahid told Xinhua that he attended the opening ceremony of the Maldives' Embassy in Beijing during his term as foreign minister back in 2008.
He said even back then, Maldives students who were studying in Chinese universities maintained close relations with the Chinese people.
"During that time, China had experienced a devastating earthquake (in Sichuan Province). The Maldivian student body in a Chinese University had initiated a blood donor program where students donated blood to the victims of the earthquake," Shahid said.
"Training our young generation in Chinese institutions is important. Because of the technology and economic miracle that we see in China. I think China is a place where Maldives can greatly benefit," he added.
Shahid said moving forward, the new government under President Solih will continue with the projects initiated in the Maldives under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
He said the Maldives was grateful to China for being a generous friend and looked forward to greater opportunities between the two countries.