President Mohamed Muizzu concluded his state visit to China on Saturday, returning to Malé with the assurance of renewed cooperation between the two countries across a multitude of areas.

This visit to China, the first state visit of Muizzu’s presidency, comes amidst a diplomatic spat between the Maldives and India. As tensions escalated, the Maldives government suspended three deputy ministers accused of making derogatory remarks about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media.

Earlier, Muizzu revealed that the Chinese government would offer 200 scholarships annually, amounting to 1,000 over his five-year term. These scholarships will be allocated to civil service staff, Muizzu said at the meeting with the Maldivian community in Beijing.

During the meeting with Maldivians in Beijing, primarily students, Muizzu emphasised the significance of “capitalising on the opportunities to pursue higher education in foreign countries” and assured of the “administration’s commitment to seeking solutions to their concerns,” according to the President’s Office.

One such concern shared by the students is the challenge of meeting the criteria for the Maldives’ government-sponsored scholarships, as most programmes offered abroad lack Dhivehi language and Islamic religious studies. Moosa Zameer, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed this concern, stating that the government has launched a pilot programme to teach Islam and Dhivehi to Maldivian students studying abroad, according to local media.

Muizzu’s visit to China, at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, resulted in the deepening of bilateral ties through a series of agreements across a wide array of sectors. These agreements cover 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 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.

During the visit, Muizzu had several meetings with senior Chinese government officials, including Li Qiang, the Premier of the State Council of China; Zhao Leji, the Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee; Zhou Zuyi, Secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the Fujian Provincial People’s Congress Standing Committee; and Zhao Long, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Party Committee and Governor of Fujian Province.

In addition to his meetings with government officials, Muizzu also engaged with key figures in the Chinese business sector. He held discussions with Cai Dianwei, the Managing Director of Hunan Construction Investment Group (HCIG); Chang Yongchun, the President of Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) International; and Chen Jianguang, the Chairman of China Metallurgical Group Corporation. Meetings were also held with senior China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) officials.