A day after the Maldivian President Waheed Hassan named a new cabinet, China said it was ready to work closely with the government in Male to bring stability to the nation gripped by political unrest.

In its first comments indicating support for Dr. Waheed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday it “would like to work closely with the Maldives government and push for steady, sound and smooth development of bilateral relations”, when asked for China’s response to ousted former President Mohamed Nasheed’s claims that he had been forced to resign.

“We respect the independent choice of its people and sincerely hope that the country can realise national stability, social harmony and economic development at an early date,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson

Liu Weimin said at a briefing.

“Based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence, China would like to work closely with the Maldives government,” he added, referring to its policy of "non-interference" in internal affairs in an indication that China would not interfere on Mr. Nasheed’s behalf.

Last week, the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives issued a warning to Chinese tourists and companies to “improve security and keep a distance from demonstrations and protests”.

Economic ties between China and the Maldives have grown rapidly in recent years, driven largely by tourism. China, in 2010, became the biggest foreign source of tourism, surging ahead of Europe. The number of tourists from China grew by more than 56 per cent over the first half of 2011, accounting for more than one-sixth of all foreign tourists. China opened its first embassy in the Maldives in November, last year.

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