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Beijing dismissed a former Maldivian president’s remarks on China-Maldives cooperation as one-sided and disparaging on Tuesday. Mohamed Nasheed, who served as president from 2008 to 2012, has accused China of taking control of 17 islands in the Maldives, Times of India reported on Saturday.

He said he will seek an international convention against what he called a land grab and will force China to sign it if he is returned to power.

Nasheed’s remarks, which echoed those he made last week, are “pure fabrication” and “ridiculous”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday.

“I need to remind Mr Nasheed that it is ultimately up to people in the two countries to judge and say whether China-Maldives cooperation is in line with both sides’ interests and whether it has benefited them and their people,” he said.

Geng added that the cooperation will not be denigrated by “some individuals’ one-sided remarks”.

In an article penned by Nasheed and published in The Indian Express on Feb 7, the former president said he fears “the Maldives is being sold off to China”.

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At a briefing the following day, Geng dismissed the claim as “absolute nonsense”. Cooperation between China and the Maldives is being carried out in the spirit of mutual respect and equality, and has played a positive role in helping the Maldives upgrade its economy and improve people’s lives, he said.

“When Mr Nasheed was president, China also offered assistance to and conducted practical cooperation with his country, which led to enormous outcomes. Would Mr Nasheed call that a ‘grab’ as well?” the spokesman said.

China’s assistance comes with no political strings and in no way impairs the sovereignty or independence of the Maldives, not to mention security in the Indian Ocean, Geng said on Thursday.

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