Monday, January 18, 2021

India-China Relations Could Worsen Over Maldives Crisis

Political analysts and experts have warned that the ongoing Maldives Crisis could endanger India-China relations. The two nations that have since long been in a battle to have a greater influence in the Indian Ocean region could see a rise in tensions owing to the Maldives Crisis. India-China relations have already seen a negative turn due to the growing affinity between China and India’s arch-rival – Pakistan.

Maldives’ President Abdulla Yameen had earlier this month declared a state of emergency after ordering the arrest of Supreme Court judges and some opposition leaders. He has now started initiating a closeness with China by inviting heavy investments from the latter as part of the OBOR (One Belt One Road) initiative of Beijing.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed, who is now living in exile, has expressed fears over China luring Maldives into a debt trap. Debt trap is the term used when a country takes over another country’s infrastructure projects in case of non-repayment of loans. The biggest example of the same is China’s take-over of a port in Sri Lanka. Nasheed said not having any democratic oversight and transparency will by all means lead to a land grab by other countries. To save Maldives from falling into the hands of the Chinese government and to bring about peace in the Maldivian region, Nasheed has requested intervention from other nations, including India.

Also Read: Help Restore Peace In Maldives, Ex Prez Mohamed Nasheed To India

Chinese Interests In Maldives A Signal For Weakening Of India-China Relations

A fellow at the IDSA, New Delhi, Anand Kumar, said that sending in military assistance to Maldives would be a bad decision on India’s part. He added that China has several combined interests in Maldives including economic, military and political interests and thus intervening in the Maldivian matters could make India-China relations struggle more. The Maldivian defense ministry on the other hand has released a statement saying that Maldives has maintained good relations with India and thus the government believes that India would not act on any requests for military intervention by Nasheed.

Also Read: After the South China Sea, Is China Now Claiming the Indian Ocean?

The Maldivian crisis began earlier this month after the Supreme Court ordered the release of political prisoners. The apex court further ordered the reinstatement of the opposition members sacked by President Yameen. Angered by the court verdict, Yameen sent out troops to arrest two Supreme Court judges and his own half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is also a former president. He further imposed a state of emergency and has ignored all requests from other nations to lift the same.

Yameen also sent out envoys to his ‘friendly nations’ China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia seeking their support for his actions.

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