The friendly gestures taken by the Maldivian government and people, amid the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, will be remembered, says the Chinese ambassador to the Maldives.
Ambassador Zhang Lizhong stated this during a press conference held on Thursday, highlighting that “people from all walks of life in Maldives showcased support to China on combating the coronavirus.”
“President [Ibrahim Mohamed Solih] sent a letter of sympathy to President Xi Jinping, and decided to donate one million tuna cans to China on behalf of the people of Maldives. Majlis Speaker [Mohamed] Nasheed spoke highly of China’s measures and outcomes on combating the coronavirus and emphasized that it is the time for everyone to aid and help China in every way possible, all members of the parliament wished good health and recovery to all who are infected by the virus.
~ Ambassador Zhang Lizhong
The ambassador also noted the supports sent in by Maldivian citizens, including a video “Jiayou Wuhan, Jiayou Hubei” reaching over 400,000 likes in just ten minutes on the popular social media platform Tik Tok, as well as in helping to convey flight details to Chinese tourists through Twitter.
Furthermore, Ambassador Lizhong stated that the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) had spent USD 10,000 in purchasing materials for building beds and restrooms in the newly established quarantine facility in the Maldives and sent “eight workers for a six-day construction.”
He added that CMEC had also donated 5,000 medical gloves and 50 bottles of medicinal alcohol worth over USD 1,300 to the Maldives.
He further noted that Maldives and China “have developed a good example of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual support between big and small countries.”
“President Solih said that Maldives stands firmly with China at this difficult time in his letter. This demonstrates the sound tradition in China-Maldives relationship featuring mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual support. Our traditional friendship will be deepened in the battle against COVID-19.”
~ Ambassador Zhang Lizhong
He added that they hope that the Maldivian side “will take positive steps to resume the normal exchange of the peoples of the two countries and minimize the impact on the cooperative projects” with the ease and overcome of COVID-19.
With this being said, Maldives had temporarily halted direct flights from China, as part of the work to curb an outbreak in the country.
Speaking on this, Ambassador Lizhong said that they understand Maldives’ reasoning for taking such precautionary measures given that it “has a very fragile medical capability and facilities”; tests for COVID-19 is also not available in Maldives, and medical samples are sent to neighboring India.
Lizhong added that he is keeping “close touch” with the Maldivian government and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, and said that he hopes that the flights “will resume accordingly” as the situation eases.
However, he noted that the lack of direct flights could effect certain projects as it causes difficulties in bringing the necessary equipment to the country.