by Huang Haimin
Male, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The arrival of senior Chinese official Li Changchun to celebrate the 40th anniversary of relations between China and the Maldives is a chance to push forward the already positive cooperation between the two countries, a diplomat said here on Thursday.
Chinese Ambassador in Male Yu Hongyao told Xinhua in an interview that Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will soon be visiting the Maldives.
Yu said China-Maldives traditional friendship has a long history and considerable progress has been made since the two countries forged diplomatic relations 40 years ago.
Leaders of the two countries have in recent years made frequent exchanges of visits and reached consensus on many important issues, Yu said, adding that these important visits and contacts have helped deepen mutual understanding and trust between the two countries.
Both China and the Maldives, as developing countries, have to face new international situations and challenges, including climate change, environmental protection and disaster relief, among others. The two countries have maintained good cooperation and coordination in regional and international affairs.
China-Maldives relations have become a model that shows any countries, big or small, can treat each other as equals and enjoy peaceful coexistence, the ambassador said.
"Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, China has provided free aid and concessional loans to the Maldives within the scope of its power, and the National Museum and the office building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs built with Chinese funds have become landmarks of the Maldives."
Yu also cited a housing project being built by the China Machinery and Equipment Engineering Company with China's preferential loans.
"The first batch of 1,000 housing units is to be completed and delivered, the second batch of 1,500 units will be started soon, and these will bring tangible benefits to the local people," he said.
As an island nation with a small population, the Maldives has a low trade volume with China at present but the growth momentum is very impressive, Yu said, adding there is great potential for cooperation between the two countries in the field of vegetable farming, seafood processing, development and utilization of new energy as well as infrastructure construction.
It is worth mentioning that China has been the largest source of foreign tourists in the Maldives for the past two years. Chinese tourists account for 25 percent of the foreign arrivals to the Maldives. In the first eight months of this year, some 144,000 Chinese people visited the country, and Yu expected that the number would exceed 200,000 by the end of the year.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two sides will hold a series of commemorative activities, including art exhibitions, film festivals and sports competitions, while issuing commemorative stamps and souvenir covers, Yu revealed.
"China and the Maldives will take the 40th anniversary as an opportunity to make joint efforts to push bilateral cooperation to a new height," he assured.
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