Maritime Silk Road to bring closer China-Maldives ties
Updated: 2014-06-09 15:58
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HONG KONG - A former Maldives senior official said Monday that the much-anticipated 21st Century Maritime Silk Road would contribute to both trade and culture exchange between his country and China.
As a country that relies on foreign imports for almost all aspects of life, "China and especially the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, proposed by President Xi Jinping peaks our interest highly, both as a nation and as a partner in trade," said Ali Hameed, former vice foreign minister of the Maldives.
The Maritime Silk Road dates back to as early as 2,000 years ago, when ancient merchants sailed from China's eastern coast, passing Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Africa, all the way to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, strengthening economic ties and cultural communications.
Hameed told an international seminar on South Asia development held in Hong Kong that the Maritime Silk Road development would provide a great opportunity for maritime trade and transportation between all Asian countries.
"Looking away from a purely economic standpoint, the Silk Road I hope will also be a platform to exchange cultural values as well as be an asset for academic and research orientated initiatives, whereby both countries can share expertise,"he said.
"I believe strongly, that the time is ripe for the ancient Silk Route to be reborn again and to develop a bridge of connectivity, friendship and mutual development for China and the Maldives,"he added.
According to Hameed, also a member of the National Executive Committee of the Republican Party of the Maldives, Chinese tourists are now the biggest demographic group seen to be enjoying the beautiful islands of his country.
Last year, more than 284,000 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives, accounting for almost 31 percent of the total tourist arrivals, he said.
"It is my sincere hope, that this trend of increasing travel becomes a mutual exchange, with the introduction of the Silk Road, a necessary development where tourists are also offered more opportunities to come and experience this beautiful country," he said.