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China-Maldives sign defense agreement amid dispute with India

Manjit Sing

In recent months, the strain in the bilateral diplomatic relations between India and the Maldives has become quite evident.

In recent months, the strain in the bilateral diplomatic relations between India and the Maldives has become quite evident. Maldivian President Mohammad Muijju has remained steadfast in his anti-India stance, forcing Indian troops to leave Maldives.

In such a situation, Maldives is making closer relations with China. The Asian superpower has even signed a defense cooperation agreement with this country in Malaysia. By doing this, Maldives will get free military assistance from China.

NDTV reported this information in a report on Monday (March 4) night with reference to the Indian news agency PTI.

China signed a defense cooperation agreement with the Maldives on Monday to provide free military assistance to build “stronger” bilateral ties, reports said. The agreement was signed weeks after President Mohammad Muijju set a deadline for the withdrawal of the first batch of Indian troops from his country.

According to NDTV, Maldivian Defense Minister Mohammad Ghassan Maumoon met with Major General Zhang Baokun, Deputy Director of China’s International Military Cooperation Office, to discuss increasing defense cooperation between the two countries.

Later, Maumoon and Major General Baokun signed an agreement on China’s military assistance to the Maldives, the Maldives Defense Ministry said on its X handle. This will take forward the strong bilateral relations of both the countries.”

However, the details of the defense cooperation agreement signed between China and Maldives were not given.

Meanwhile, China has gifted 12 eco-friendly ambulances to Maldives, edition.mv news portal reported on Monday. In a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Health on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Maldives Wang Lixin presented the letter of gift of ambulance to Maldives.

Earlier, the President of this island nation in the Indian Ocean, Mohammad Muijju, set a time limit for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Maldives until March 15. He set the deadline for troop withdrawal in a meeting with Indian officials in the capital, Male, earlier last month.

He gave the ultimatum to withdraw the Indian troops immediately after returning home after his first five-day state visit to China after being elected president. Later this ultimatum was extended till 10th of May.

India has traditionally had strong ties with the Maldives. The total population of the Maldives is a little over 5 million; who are heavily dependent on New Delhi for essential commodities including rice, vegetables, medicines and humanitarian aid.

In 1998 there was a coup attempt in Maldives against the then President Abdul Gayoom. At this time, India sent troops to help fight the coup. New Delhi later withdrew those troops within a few days.

But India’s dependence on India and New Delhi’s interference in Maldives’ internal politics have raised concerns in the country. Mohammad Muijju won the presidential election held in November last year. One of his election campaign promises was ‘Bharat Hatao’. Although most of the presidents before him were pro-Indian.

Mohammad Muijju called New Delhi’s growing influence a threat to the country’s sovereignty and vowed to expel Indian troops from Maldivian soil.

Meanwhile, Maldives signed a defense cooperation agreement with China.

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