Chinese FM’s visit to the Maldives, Sri Lanka shows BRI progress: analyst
Published: Jan 07, 2022 10:38 PM
China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi

China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi began his visit to the Maldives on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations of China and the Maldives.

Wang's visit followed trips to Kenya, Eritrea, and the Comoros, in a continuation of the tradition of Chinese foreign ministers starting every new year with a visit to Africa, that focused on fighting the pandemic and peace building. The visit to Male, which will see the two nations sign several documents of cooperation, will be followed by a visit to Sri Lanka. 

During the past years, China helped the Maldives improve its infrastructure and build medical facilities to combat the COVID-19 virus.

The trips also showed that China attaches great importance to maintaining ties with countries around the Indian Ocean, Chinese analysts noted.

Wang's visit also drew attention from Indian media. India traditionally views itself as a regional superpower.

Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Friday that the foreign minister's visit covered countries of strategic importance to China's maritime trade in the Indian Ocean.

This is also the route where the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) achieved great progress in recent years, Zhou said.

Analysts noted that there is no need for Indian media to get jittery about Wang's visit, as India lacks neither the will nor the capacity to provide aid and cooperation for these developing countries on par with China.

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Wang unveiled the Kipevu oil terminal off the Port of Mombasa.

In a statement to the Global Times, China Communication Construction Corporation (CCCC), which built the project for $353 million, noted that the oil terminal is advanced and expected to effectively drive down fuel prices in Kenya. The company said the oil terminal is a desirable outcome of joint construction of BRI between China and Africa.

Wang is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka over the weekend and launch the celebration of the 65th Anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations. He is expected to visit the Colombo Port City, where CCCC is involved in port construction.

Colombo will be the last stop of his first foreign visit in the new year.