Why is Chinese Media accusing India of being a bully in the Maldives? Is China really working to win hearts and minds in the Maldives, while India is only trying to dominate the region? Recently, China-Maldives Friendship Bridge saw a grand opening ceremony which won accolades from both people and government but received no greetings from India.
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China-Maldives Friendship Bridge
As the Maldives celebrates the opening of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, there were no congratulations from India. In fact, Indian officials and media, on the contrary, went out of their way to try and defame the bridge, according to the Chinese Global Times.
The bridge was built and largely funded by China. As per the news reports, India’s ambassador to the Maldives had “boycotted” the event. To further undermine the event, the report even suggested that the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi ambassadors also “boycotted” the event because their cars were not allowed to drive up to the venue, claiming that only the Chinese ambassador’s car was permitted to.
While it is unclear why the Indian ambassador did not visit the ceremony and whether the cars of the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi ambassadors were barred from entering the venue, it is certainly not true that the Chinese ambassador was offered special treatment. In fact, the Chinese Embassy is right across from the park where the ceremony was held, so the ambassador simply walked there and therefore did not need to use a car at all.
Indian politicians have even threatened to attack the Maldives and have been very vocal about Maldivian domestic politics. Naturally, the India-Maldives relationship has been strained and fraught.
Despite all this noise, the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, which connects the capital city of Male to the island where the country’s major airport is located, is crucial to the Maldives’ economic and social development – it is a project that will directly benefit local residents.
There is no doubt that India is a major player in South Asia, but if it continues to pursue its relations with its neighbours with a negative, zero-sum game mindset, it could end up in isolation. But if it changes its strategy and actively pursues win-win cooperation with these countries like China does, it would benefit greatly and maintain cordial relations with all players in the region, concluded the Global Times