President Mohamed Muizzu and Chinese President Xi Jinping have held official talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, marking a new chapter in bilateral relations between the two countries. The meeting, held as part of Muizzu’s ongoing state visit to China, comes amidst deteriorating diplomatic ties between the Maldives and its neighbour India.

During the talks, President Muizzu expressed gratitude for China’s role in the Maldives’ economic success and generous assistance in social housing, higher education, and infrastructure development. He also explored avenues for expanding tourism cooperation and air connectivity between the two countries, according to the President’s Office.

President Xi congratulated Muizzu on his election victory and expressed confidence that the visit would mark the beginning of a new chapter in bilateral relations. Xi also expressed hope to strengthen cooperation in various areas, including the blue, green, and digital economies, the President’s Office said.

Following the talks, the two countries deepened bilateral ties with a series of agreements across a wide array of sectors. These agreements reflect a shared commitment to cooperation and mutual development, with a focus on sustainable practices and long-term strategic partnerships.

The agreements cover areas such as disaster risk reduction, the blue economy, the digital economy, green development, media cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative, human resource development, economic development policy, agriculture, and animal welfare. They also pave the way for enhanced tourism cooperation, a vital sector of the Maldivian economy.

The agreements include specific projects such as a social housing project on Fushidhiggaru Falhu, a coconut tree pest control assistance project, and a feasibility study on laboratory equipment for health facilities. These initiatives demonstrate the practical application of the agreements in areas of urban development, agriculture, and health.

The agreements also include provisions for a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries for 2024-2028 and grant assistance from China to the Maldives. This development signifies strengthening ties and a shared vision for future collaboration.

Muizzu is in China on his first state visit since assuming office in November 2023, eschewing the traditional inaugural visit to India and marking a significant departure from the diplomatic norm for Maldivian leaders. The move has raised eyebrows and sparked debate over the future trajectory of Maldives-India relations.