Extracts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on February 8, 2018
Q: We have noted that the travel advisory concerning the Maldives has been upgraded to the highest level by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives. You yourself has repeatedly issued travel alert from this podium. Could you tell us whether group tour to the Maldives has been called off?
A: After the Maldives declared a state of emergency and in light of the country’s security conditions, the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives on February 5 announced a travel advisory, asking Chinese nationals to cancel travel plans.
We have learnt that the National Tourism Administration of China also issued travel alert, asking domestic travel agencies to suspend organizing group trips to the Maldives. All the Chinese citizens are strongly advised to heed these warnings, and when planning outbound trips during the Spring Festival, pay close attention to travel safety risks. Adequate communication and consultation with travel agencies, hotels and airliners is advised to properly resolve issues that may arise as a result of objective and unexpected factors.
Q: On February 7, the Indian Times published an article by former Maldivian President Nasheed, in which he said that Yameen, in his endless quest to enrich himself, has sold off the nation’s sovereignty. Foreign powers, among them China, are engaged in a “land grab” of Maldivian islands, key infrastructure, and even essential utilities. This land grab not only undermines the independence of the Maldives, but also the security of the entire Indian Ocean region. Nasheed feared that piece by piece, island by island, the Maldives is being “sold off” to China. What is your response?
A: These allegations are absolutely nonsense. When Mr. Nasheed was the president, China also offered assistance and conducted practical cooperation with his country, which led to enormous outcomes. Would Mr. Nasheed call that “grab” as well?
In recent years, on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment, China and the Maldives have been cooperating on infrastructure and livelihood projects, which has played a positive role in transforming and upgrading the latter’s economy and improving its people’s livelihood. China offers its assistance to the Maldives with no political strings attached. There is no way that such assistance will impair Maldives’ sovereignty and independence, not to mention undermining the security of the Indian Ocean region. The friendly cooperation between China and the Maldives is for the benefit of all Maldivians. It serves the common interests of the two countries and the two peoples.
Q: According to reports, the UN Security Council is going to meet today to discuss the situation in the Maldives. Earlier the UN Secretary General also said that the UN good offices could be opened up to resolve the situation in the Maldives. Does China support resolving the issues concerning the Maldives through the UN channel?
A: China has been closely following the situation in the Maldives. China believes that the relevant disputes arising in the Maldives are the internal affairs of that country and should be properly resolved through dialogue and negotiation by various parties in the Maldives. The international community should respect the Maldives’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, provide assistance and convenience for talks between various parties and play a constructive role. China stands ready to maintain close communication with various parties on the situation in the Maldives and jointly promote an early resumption of normal order.
Q: In fact, not interfering in the internal affairs of the Maldives by other countries is a different thing from UN mediation. Just to seek a clarification of what you said, should we take that as China is also not for UN intervention in the Maldives?
A: I think I made it very clear already. The international community should respect the Maldives’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, provide assistance and convenience for talks between various parties and play a constructive role in this regard.
Q: You said China is willing to stay in touch with all parties in the Maldives. Are you saying that China also keeps communication with the opposition parties in the Maldives?
A: China has been closely following the situation in the Maldives. We stay in touch with various parties of the Maldives and the diplomatic channel between China and the Maldives remains unimpeded.