Maldives Strengthens Ties with China in Shift Away from India

Maldives and China's Growing Bond, President Muizzu's Vision, and the Cautionary Tale of Balancing Alliances

Jan 10, 2024 - 09:46
Jan 10, 2024 - 09:46
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Maldives Strengthens Ties with China in Shift Away from India
Maldives Strengthens Ties with China in Shift Away from India

Maldives and China upgraded their friendship during the first visit of President Mohamed Muizzu to Beijing. The president, who won by saying India poses a threat to their independence, got a warm welcome from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

President Xi called Muizzu "an old friend" and announced that China and the Maldives would work together more closely. This is a big deal and sets the stage for China to invest more in the Maldives, which is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean.

Muizzu became president in November, and since then, he's been talking about moving away from India's influence. Even though the Maldives owes a lot of money to China, Muizzu is keen on getting more Chinese investments. He asked Indian military personnel to leave the Maldives but is open to Chinese investors.

The relationship between India and China turned sour in 2020 after a fight in the Himalayas. By getting closer to the Maldives, China is making its presence felt in a region where India has seen other countries, like Sri Lanka, getting closer to China.

After their meeting, President Muizzu thanked China for helping the Maldives grow economically. They signed 20 agreements, showing they want to work together on many things.

The Maldives owes China a lot of money—$1.37 billion, which is about 20% of what it owes to different countries. This makes China the biggest lender to the Maldives, even more than Saudi Arabia and India.

China has also invested an extra $1.37 billion in the Maldives since 2014 when they joined a big project called the Belt and Road Initiative.

President Xi said China strongly supports the Maldives in protecting its independence, and he's ready to share how China runs things with the Maldives.

While Muizzu was in China, he visited the Chinese Communist Party Museum, and President Xi suggested having more direct flights between the two countries. This could be good for the Maldives' tourism, which was a big part of its economy in 2022.

However, the World Bank has a warning. They say the Maldives should be careful about getting too close to China because it might cause problems. They point out that during the pandemic, the Maldives got a lot of money from China, and now, they need to be careful about relying too much on one country.

Also Read: Indians Rethink Maldives Vacations Amidst Anti-Modi Remarks by Maldivian minister, Mariyam Shiuna

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