On 6 March 2019, the Financial Times published a letter by Ms. Zeng Rong, Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, entitled China has aided the Maldives’ transformation. The full text is as follows:
The Big Read on Maldives (February 12) hyped about “belt and road” co-operation leading to so-called “debt traps” but lost sight of the reality on the ground.
The mutually beneficial co-operation between China and its neighbouring countries under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative is conducive to local economic and social development, regional inter-connectivity and inter-regional economic integration. In recent years, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, China and the Maldives have engaged in co-operation in infrastructure and livelihood projects, such as bridges, airports and housing. Such efforts have played a positive role in promoting the Maldives’ economic transformation and the improvement of its people’s living conditions. The completion of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge last August gave the island nation its first cross-sea bridge. This is a popular project among the Maldivian people as it not only promoted the connectivity and development of the country but also greatly facilitated travel for local residents.
Chinese companies care about the return on their investment and financial institutions assess risks before lending. Host countries carry out evaluations before approving any projects and their view matters most as to whether the BRI has put partner countries into a “debt trap”. Leaders from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have refuted such accusations. Abdullah Shahid, the Maldives’ foreign minister, said in late December that the BRI has delivered fruitful social projects including the friendship bridge and public housing. The Maldivian government will continue its co-operation with China under the framework of the BRI to create better and more favourable conditions for bilateral co-operation.
Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK