China and Maldives on Monday announced that they would cooperate on security issues as visiting President Xi Jinping also extracted an assurance from his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Yameen to actively take part in his pet project, the 21st century maritime ‘silk road’.
Xi is the first Chinese president to visit Maldives, a cluster of more than 1,100 islands in Indian Ocean, near the southern Indian coast.
A joint statement released on Monday after bilateral meetings said: “The Maldives welcomes and supports the proposal put forward by China to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and is prepared to actively participate in relevant cooperation.”
“The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in other areas, such as marine, economy, and security,” the statement said.
Cooperation on security issues, though no details were made available, between China and Maldives could worry India, till now the dominant power in the region. The two leaders further signed eight MoUs including one on developing a new international airport and building a bridge between two islands.
“The most notable MoU concerned the promoting the construction of the long-awaited Male-Hulhulé Bridge – with a replica awaiting President Xi’s arrival at Republic Square this morning. A foreign ministry statement has said that the Chinese government will “favourably consider” providing financial support for the project,” local newspaper Minivan reported late on Monday evening.