China does not wish for Maldives' debt to increase further, will prioritize the provision of grants and free aid: Chinese Ambassador Wang Lixin

17 May 2024 | 19:13
Chinese Ambassador Wang Lixin in Thursday's press conference (Photo/Sun)

Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives, Wang Lixin, stated on Thursday that China does not wish for Maldives' debt to increase further, prioritizing the provision of grants and free aid to the Maldives.

At a press conference held by the Chinese Embassy, Ambassador Lixin addressed multiple topics, including the ongoing debt repayment discussions and accusations of a debt trap.

Ambassador Lixin emphasized that China is committed to helping the Maldives without adding to its financial burdens. 

You also would have noticed that now, China is issuing grants to the Maldives. We are prioritizing providing free aid to the Maldives, so as not to further increase Maldives' debt

She stated

She further outlined several projects currently planned in the Maldives under grants and free aid from China

Ambassador Lixin stated that China is deeply concerned about the rising debt of the Maldives and that discussions are ongoing to provide some form of ease in debt repayment on current loans.

However, she maintained that debt restructuring is not the solution, as it would obstruct the Maldives from seeking further financial aid from China.

She dismissed claims made by former President Mohamed Nasheed that China is placing the Maldives in a 'debt trap.'

In an interview to Srilankan news 'The morning" earlier this week, Nasheed alleged that China intentionally increased project costs, exploiting the Maldives' reliance on foreign allies, which would eventually lead to debt traps.

China has always respected the Maldives, and the projects run in the Maldives are not conducted with any motives of gain or benefit to China

Ambassador Lixin asserted.

In response to Nasheed's allegations, Ambassador Lixin asked whether Maldivians believed his remarks and if any Maldivian government would be foolish enough to put the nation in debt. 

All projects carried out in the Maldives – whether via loans or grant assistance from China – are carried out at the request of the Maldives, rather than on China’s own volition

she clarified

According to World Bank statistics, the Maldives owes China USD 1.37 billion, which makes up 20 percent of the Maldives' total foreign debt. 
The majority of these loans were taken out during the administration of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.