COLOMBO: The Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, who is on a three-day visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, has said that China is Maldives’ “closest development and commercial partner,” according to a Maldivian government release.

Speaking at the official reception held to mark the 45 th. anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on Wednesday, Yameen said that the development partnership between the Maldives and China “has reached a new high point over the past four years.”

“The Maldives considers China to be one of our truest friends,” Yameen stressed, underscoring the mutual understanding, trust, and respect between the two countries.

The Maldivian President especially highlighted that China understands that as a nation, solutions to the problems the Maldives faces can only be “homegrown” believing in its capability to resolve its domestic affairs.

Yameen recalled the fruitful discussions held and agreements signed between the Maldives and China during President Xi Jinping’s historic State Visit to Maldives in 2014. These had paved the way to a partnership of “future oriented, all-round friendly, cooperative ties,” he noted..

The President further said that the ground-breaking infrastructure projects launched after President Xi Jinping’s visit, including the construction of the friendship bridge between Male’ and Hulhule’ and the construction of a new runway at the Velana international airport, would stand as “visible symbols of the everlasting friendship between the Maldives and China.”

President Yameen expressed his gratitude to President Xi Jinping, the Government and the people of China for their generous assistance towards the socio-economic development of the Maldives.

Noting that today Maldives is going through a key transformational moment in its history, the President stated that to achieve the true aspirations and desires of the Maldivian people, particularly the youth population, it needs to find “creative and sustainable” ways to enhance its economic base, create more opportunities for gainful employment, and provide livelihood opportunities for its people across the country.

The President went on to invite Chinese entrepreneurs to be partners in the Maldives’ developmental journey.