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How China-Maldives cooperation brings tangible benefits to people


After 33 months of intensive construction, the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, built with support from Chinese enterprises, was officially opened in late August 2018, connecting the capital Male and the neighboring island of Hulhumale.

With a designed service life of 100 years, the 2-km-long bridge is a landmark project for China and the Maldives under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and is playing an important role in the country's economic and social development.

As the most iconic and transformational project carried out so far in the Maldives, the bridge has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, both people living there and visitors, President of the Maldives Mohamed Muizzu once said.

Muizzu will pay a state visit to China from January 8 to 12, aiming to push bilateral relations to a new level.

A view of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge. /CMG
A view of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge. /CMG

A view of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge. /CMG

BRI cooperation promotes prosperity in Maldives

The opening of the bridge has also given rise to a new bridge-related job in the Maldives.

"There were no traffic lights in the capital Male. However, they were installed on the bridge after the opening. Therefore, a new profession has emerged, which is the bridge traffic police," Du Cailiang, a staff member of a Chinese company in charge of the bridge project, told China Media Group (CMG), adding that traffic on the bridge has become smooth since then.

The traffic volume has reached hundreds of millions of people since the bridge was opened five years ago.

Within the BRI framework, many other projects, including the construction of social housing units, have been carried out with the Chinese government's assistance.

With the help of Chinese enterprises, thousands of families have moved into spacious and bright modern housing, with living conditions having been significantly improved.

"The house is very cozy. We feel extremely comfortable living here," a resident of one of the social housing units told CMG, adding that many people live in and enjoy such apartments.

In addition, the expansion and upgrading of the Velana International Airport are underway, which will significantly increase the airport's capacity upon completion.

BRI cooperation between the two countries has brought tangible benefits to the people of the Maldives, effectively promoted the country's economic and social development, and improved people's livelihood and well-being, Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives Wang Lixin told CMG.

How China-Maldives cooperation brings tangible benefits to people

From 2010, China was the largest source of tourists to the Maldives for 10 consecutive years. According to the Maldives Ministry of Tourism, nearly 300,000 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives in 2019, accounting for around 17 percent of total tourist arrivals that year.

In January 2023, the Maldives was included in the first batch of pilot countries to resume China's outbound group travel. Meanwhile, China's Capital Airlines resumed direct flights from Beijing to Male on January 18, 2023.

As tourism is the pillar industry of the Maldives, the return of Chinese tourists will help the country's economic recovery following the pandemic, and is also conducive to promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges and enhancing bilateral ties, Ambassador Wang said.

A mutual visa exemption policy between the two countries took effect in February 2023, allowing Chinese citizens visa-free stay or transit in the country for no more than 30 days for business and travel purposes.

Muizzu believes that the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the Maldives will increase significantly in the future and may return to the same level as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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