IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE

President of Maldives is going to visit China leaving India uncomfortable

Sathia Kumar

Chinese State Councilor H.E. Shane Eakin.

The new president of Maldives, Mohamed Muijju, is going to visit China this time, increasing India’s worries and worries. Although the date is not yet finalised, it is heard that he will soon visit Beijing and hold a meeting with Xi Jinping.

Muijju’s visit to China is also significant in another respect. All presidents of democratic Maldives have visited India first after assuming office. Even presidents known to be anti-India have visited India on their first foreign visit after taking oath. But Muijju started his foreign tour by going to Türkiye. And before coming to India, he is going to visit China.

New Delhi is watching the visit of the new president of Maldives to China. Border conflicts, Beijing’s attempts to increase its influence in Southeast Asia – India-China relations have been going through several ups and downs. In this situation, the China-closeness of the Maldives has increased the discomfort of the Modi government. Muijju is already known to be anti-India and pro-China.

Muijju entered the polls with a promise to withdraw from the ‘India First’ policy of former President of Maldives Mohammad Soli to give priority to India. And within a few days of being elected, the president warned India that we will send back all the foreign troops from the Maldives.

Although Muijju did not mention which country he would send troops back to first, it was clear that he was referring to India. Because, the Indian army was in charge of the security of various important administrative and industrial areas of that island state in the Indian Ocean. Later, he gave a formal message to India to withdraw its troops. India is forced to do that.

Muijju’s party Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) also said in Maldivian politics that India has left the army to undermine the sovereignty of their country. Although the opposition parties claim, Muijju is running strong nationalist campaign for political reasons.

Meanwhile, experts in international politics consider this ‘India out’ policy of Muijju to be a major change in the diplomatic position of Maldives. Maldives has been trying to find new friends recently avoiding closeness with India. A few days ago, the country canceled an important agreement with India related to water survey of four years ago.

And India’s relationship with Turkey, the country that Muizju chose as his first friend, is not very good. Turkey has openly moved against India over the withdrawal of Kashmir’s special status (Article 370).

Apart from that, they are trying to gradually increase their influence in Southeast Asia. Turkish Foreign Minister recently visited Sri Lanka and Maldives. After a long time, Ankara also started air service with Sri Lanka.

Maldives has chosen the United Arab Emirates as another friendly country. Although India has a close relationship with this country in West Asia, it is believed that this activism of Maldives is to increase the influence in the politics of West Asia.

Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation off the Malabar coast, is also strategically important to India. In order to maintain peace and stability in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi needs to maintain good relations with the Maldives.

Maldives is also dependent on India in many areas including tourism and infrastructure. Experts believe that if India does not maintain good relations, Maldives will have to develop close relations with several countries that have special interests in the Indian Ocean.

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