Her excellency Yang Xiuping, Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure to be here today at this reception to mark the 60th anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China. On this happy occasion, on behalf of the people and the government of Maldives, I extend our sincere congratulations and best wishes to the people and the government of China.

Maldives and china have enjoyed long friendship based on mutual respect and admiration. Our friendship dates back to 15th century. The abundance of blue and while porcelain in many parts of the Maldives dating back to 15th and 16th centuries is ample evidence that the relations between two countries have continued for many centuries. Therefore, it is very appropriate that the government of China is building the first modern museum in this country.

Since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1972, our relationship with China has continued to expand in virtually every sphere of life. Bilateral relations have widened to cover trade, tourism, education and culture.

In fact, over the past few years, there is increasing people to people contact between our two countries. Maldivians are now travelling more frequently to China for purposes of business and leisure while China has become one of the strongest and most important emerging markets for Maldivian tourism, with the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives last year at an all time record of nearly 41,000.

The inauguration of direct flights from Beijing to Malé is a historical milestone in our relationship. It is especially auspicious that the inauguration of these flights marks the 60th anniversary celebrations. This will further strengthen the relationship between our people. We hope that more Maldivians will now travel to China for trade and education. Similarly, we hope that more Chinese investors and tourist will arrive in this country.

China’s contribution to the socio-economic development of the Maldives is immense. China has generously provided important assistance to such vital areas as housing and infrastructure development. We are equally grateful for the moral and material support and Chinese government rendered to the Maldives following Asian tsunami of 2004.

I hope that in addition to direct bilateral assistance, Maldives-China relationship will soon broaden into foreign direct investments and joint venture partnerships. China is clearly well placed to play a major role in the social, economic and educational development of the Maldives.

China’s immense achievements in its economic, social and political development, over the course of the last 60 years, stand as a shining example for other nations. The impressive arrangements made for last year’s Summer Olympics in Beijing is testimony to the excellence that China embodies on the global stage.

We are now looking ant the beautiful city of Shanghai. The 2010 Shanghai World Expo will be largest of its kind in history. In May, we hope to showcase our culture, our history and our beautiful country at the Maldivian pavilion.

Before I conclude, I would like to say our Chinese friends that the Maldives and China will always remain close allies and true friends. We wish the leadership and the people of china best of health, happiness and prosperity.

Thank you.