Male: Chinese Embassy in Male has now responded to Maldives' denial to participate in the "China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation" which was held on November 21 and called the action "regrettable" as it would have helped the nation to address its concerns on climate change and promote the blue economy.

"It's believed that the Forum would help the Maldives address its concerns on climate change and promote the development of its blue economy through multilateral cooperation, the Chinese side extended invitations to the government officials and senior scholars from Maldives to participate in the Forum. Regrettably, the Maldivian Government officials did not take the opportunity to participate in it," the Chinese Embassy in Maldives said in an official release.

The China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation, which was held last week in Kunming, Yunnan Province under the theme "Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy," was jointly organized by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and the People's Government of Yunnan Province of China in order to advance the blue economy amid China's rising quest to become a global superpower.

According to the official release of the Chinese Embassy in Male, the forum has been brought into existence to implement the Global Development Initiative proposed by CCP chairman Xi Jinping with the aim of facilitating the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Notably, a joint press statement was released by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) alleging the participation of the Maldives in the "China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation", held on 21 November 2022.

Responding to China's false claims, the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "The Ministry would like to clarify that the Government of Maldives did not participate in the Forum mentioned above, and communicated its decision not to participate to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China to the Maldives on November 15, 2022."

Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Maldives are among the biggest debtors of China. Pakistan owes USD 77.3 billion of external debt to China, according to Forbes.

Maldives' debt to 31 per cent of its Gross National Income (GNI). Maldives' total debt amounts to MVR 86 billion by the end of 2020, MVR 44 billion of which is external debt, reported The Island Online.

China is reaching most countries under the One Belt and Road scheme. The world's low-income countries owe 37 per cent of their debt to China in 2022, compared to just 24 per cent in bilateral debts to the rest of the world.

The Chinese global project to finance the construction of the port, rail and land infrastructure across the globe, had been a significant source of debt to China for participating countries, reported The Island Online.

Maldives newspaper reported that according to statistics released by the Finance Ministry, Maldives' debt rose to MVR 99 billion by the end of Q1 2022. It made up 113 per cent of the GDP.