China prefers friendship over grandmother’s jewelry: Ambassador Zhang

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Lizhong with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih | Photo: Presidents Office

Male’, Maldives – Zhang Lizhong, Chinese Ambassador to Maldives has said on Twitter that while jewelry inherited from a grandmother is very precious, China prefers friendship, which Zhang has said is priceless.

Ambassador Zhang also mentioned China’s extension of debt relief under the G20 framework, which is the highest among G20 members. G20 members have agreed to extend the suspension of debt payments by an additional six months to support some of the most vulnerable countries in their fight against COVID-19.

The extension will provide ongoing relief for the USD 14 billion in debt payments that would otherwise be due at the end of 2021, and gives developing nations until the end of June 2021 to focus expenses on health care and emergency stimulus programs rather than debt repayments.

Zhang’s tweet comes after the former President of Maldives and the current Speaker of the Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed said that Maldives will not be able to repay the “unaffordable” debt owed to China even if the jewelry of our grandmothers are sold.

Nasheed claims the country is due to pay USD 83 million to China before the end of this year and said that despite the tough times the country, and the world is facing, China is not willing to give any ease on the millions in debt the country owes and added that it is not appropriate for China to ask for the repayments while the citizens of Maldives are facing such a vulnerable time.

However, Ambassador Zhang has said that that there are ongoing discussions on debt sustainability issues with and that Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid has expressed appreciation on the progress of debt suspension implemented by China to Maldives under the G20 Debt service Suspension Initiative.

The Finance Minister of Maldives, Ibrahim Ameer informed during a Parliament meeting that the Maldivian debt is estimated to be MVR 82.8 billion at the end of 2021. He said that although the government is doing everything they can to speed up the recovery of Maldives’ economy, a side effect of the current attempts at economic management is an increase in debt.