The Government-controlled Xinhua news agency of China has disseminated the following report on March 6,2010:
"China UnionPay (CUP) began cash withdrawal services for card holders in 95 percent of automatic teller machines in the Maldives, after launching a partnership with the island nation's biggest bank Friday (March 5).Following cooperation between the CUP and the Bank of Maldives, CUP card payment services will expand to 90 percent of point-of-sale (POS) terminals in Maldives. The move aims to better serve card users as China has become the Maldives' fastest growing tourist source country since 2008, with visitors hitting 40,000 a year, said Cai Jianbo, CUP first executive Vice-President. The international network of the CUP reaches 84 countries and regions. CUP launched a card payment service in Brunei on Tuesday." ((7-3-2010)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )
A note on Sino-Maldives Relations disseminated by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 19,2009 )
Maldivesis called "Liushan Guo" or "Liuyang Guo" in Chinese history. In Yongle 10th year (1412) and Xuande 5th year (1430) of the Ming Dynasty, leading a fleet of merchant ships, Zheng He reached Maldives twice. Since Yongle 14th year, King of Maldives Yusof sent his envoys three times to China. In Foreign Splendors written by Zheng He and his entourage Ma Huan and Maritime Marvels by Fei Xin were true and detailed records of Maldives' geographical position, climate, products and customs. In Male Museum are China's porcelain and coins unearthed there on display, a witness to China's friendly contacts and trade relations with Maldives in history. Due to the imperialist invasion afterward, Sino-Maldives relations were suspended for several centuries.
In the early 1960s, Chinese and Maldives ambassadors to Sri Lanka started visiting each other. China supported Maldives in its struggle for national independence by ridding itself of the British colonial rule. On October 14, 1972, China and Maldives established diplomatic relations, and Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka was concurrently accredited to Maldives. In 1980, Maldives Foreign Minister Jamil officially paid a friendly visit to China. In 1984, Maldives President Gayoom paid a state visit to China. In 1993, Foreign Minister Jameel visited China again. In 2000, Maldives State Minister of Defence and National Security Sattar visited China and in 2001, Foreign Minister Jameel, Speaker Hameed and Brigadier Zahir, General Chief of Staff for National Security Force visited China one after another.
On the other hand, Chinese Vice-Premier cum Foreign Minister Huang Hua, Vice-Premier cum Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, Vice-Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the NPC Chen Muhua, and Chairman of the CCPCC Li Ruihuan, General Chief of Staff of the PLA Fu Quanyou and Premier Zhu Rongji visited Maldives respectively in 1981, 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2001. On the occasion of 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Sino-Maldives diplomatic relations in 2002, President Jiang Zemin and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan exchanged congratulatory messages respectively with President Gayoom and Foreign Minister Jameel. On May 26, 2009, Maldives opens its Chinese embassy in Beijing. Mr. Ahmed Latheef becomes Maldives' first Ambassador to China.
Economic and Trade Relations and Economic-Technological Cooperation
In 1981,China and Maldives started their economic and technological cooperation. In 1982, they restored direct trade. In 2002, Sino-Maldives trade volume totaled US$2.977 million, of which China's exports accounted for US$2.975 million and its imports US$2,000.
Since 1972, China has provided Maldives with aid totaling RMB74.7875 million. Starting form 1985, Chinese companies began entering project-contracting market in Maldives. By the end of 2001, the accumulated volume for their contracted projects in Maldives had reached US$46.37 million, with their turnover reaching US$40 million.
Sino-Maldives economic cooperation and trade volume are very insignificant. Hong Kong and Singapore serve as transit ports fro most of China's exports to Maldives. China's major products to Maldives are rice and consumer goods.
China and Maldives have seen infrequent contacts and cooperation in other fields. Between 20 and 30 September 2002, at the invitation of the Central Military Commission, Maldives State Minister of Defence and National Security paid a friendly visit to China, which was the first official contact between the Chinese and Maldives armies.
On May 18, 1998, the governments of Maldivesand SAR Hong Kong of China signed the transit agreement for civil flights.