|Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen during the signing of a number of cooperative documents in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 16, 2014. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)
NANJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that China welcomes the Maldives to participate in the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Xi made the remarks when meeting with President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen, who will attend the opening ceremony of the second Summer Youth Olympic Games on Saturday in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.
Noting that the Maldives is part of the ancient maritime Silk Road, Xi called on the two sides to enhance maritime cooperation.
Xi said China understands the Maldives' position in global climate change negotiations as a small island nation, adding that China is willing to enhance coordination with Maldives to jointly safeguard the common interests of developing nations.
Xi praised the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties with mutual respect and support, calling it a model for building equality, friendship and reciprocal cooperation between big and small countries.
China respects the independent choice of people in the Maldives on their political system and development path, he said, voicing the hope that the Maldives will maintain political stability, social harmony and economic prosperity.
China views the Maldives as an important partner in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, and is ready to work with the Maldives to cement traditional friendship and expand cooperation in tourism, trade and infrastructure.
Yameen praised China's preparation work for the Summer Youth Olympic Games, saying they will bring happiness and friendship to young people worldwide.
He said China is an important cooperative partner of the Maldives and has made important contributions to his country's economic and social development.
The Maldives values its relations with China and firmly adheres to the one-China policy, he said, hoping to enhance exchanges and deepen friendship with China.
He said the Maldives will respond to China's initiative to build a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and thanked China for its understanding and support to small island countries in the environment and ecology.
The Maldives is willing to enhance communication and cooperation with China on international and regional affairs to better cope with global challenges, including climate change, he said.
He invited Xi to pay a state visit to the Maldives at an early date and welcomed Chinese companies to join in cooperative projects in the areas of tourism, infrastructure building and youth development.
The two heads of state also jointly witnessed the signing of a number of cooperative documents, including a pact on economic and technological cooperation between the two governments.
The Youth Olympic Games, the brainchild of former International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, are for young athletes aged between 15 and 18.