China: No intention to debt trap Maldives

Maldivian President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu (R) meets with the Chinese Ambassador Wang Lixin (L) on October 4, 2023. (Photo/ELIYZ)

Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives Wang Lixin states China has no intention to debt trap the Maldives, adding that projects carried out in the archipelago with assistance from China, are at the request of the Maldives.

Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed during an interview with Sri Lankan media outlet ‘The Morning’, claimed China was "debt trapping" the Maldives, and added the island nation has weakened by distancing itself from India.

Nasheed alleged China was inflating project costs to exploit Maldives' reliance on foreign allies in running developmental projects, while procuring their own equipment and personnel for the initiatives in a well-planned approach. Nasheed claimed this would eventually lead to debt traps set by China, which the Maldives would not be able to repay.

Ambassador Wang strongly rebutted Nasheed’s allegations during a press conference held by the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives on Thursday.

In this regard, Ambassador Wang inquired whether the people of the Maldives believe the remarks made by Nasheed, posing the question as to whether any Maldivian government is foolish enough to put the nation to debt.

She further said all projects carried out in the Maldives – whether be it via loans or grant assistance from China – are carried out at the request of Maldives, rather than on China’s own volition.

When President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu assumed won September’s presidential election, he was dubbed as a “pro-China” individual by international media outlets.

Maldivian President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu (R) with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) on January 10, 2024. (Photo/President's Office)

As these allegations heightened, President Muizzu undertook his first-ever state visit after assuming office to China.

The trip saw 20 agreements executed between the two nations, one of which pertaining to the current administration’s largest housing project, the development of Fushidhiggarufalhu.

Nevertheless, President Muizzu has refuted these claims, citing he is “pro-Maldives”.