Alarm bells ring for In­dia

Southasia - - Briefing -

In or­der to in­crease its in­flu­ence in the In­dian Ocean Re­gion (IOR), China is in­creas­ing its eco­nomic foot­print in the Mal­dives by not only es­tab­lish­ing a fully func­tion­ing em­bassy but also as­sist­ing with the de­vel­op­ment of Mal­dives’ sec­ond in­ter­na­tional air­port at Han­i­maad­hoo. China has also ex­er­cised diplo­matic pres­sure and is lob­by­ing dili­gently to win cru­cial de­vel­op­ment projects on the Iha­vand­hoo and Maarand­hoo Is­lands. In ef­forts to fa­cil­i­tate crit­i­cally needed en­ergy imports and en­sure the se­cu­rity of its sea-lanes, China plans to cre­ate trans­ship­ment ports on the is­lands for its own ben­e­fit. The coun­try has pre­vi­ously col­lab­o­rated with the Sey­chelles, Mau­ri­tius, Mal­dives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myan­mar, Cam­bo­dia and Pak­istan.

In­ci­den­tally, both is­lands in ques­tion lie to the north of the Mal­dives, un­com­fort­ably close to In­dia and Sri Lanka, thereby caus­ing a flurry within the In­dian govern­ment. China has al­ready been ac­cused of build­ing a ‘string of pearls’ or cre­at­ing pock­ets of in­flu­ence to en­cir­cle In­dia. The news comes amidst clouded re­ports

that China is seek­ing to build a naval sub­ma­rine base in Marao. A visit by Wu Bang­guo, Chair­man of the stand­ing com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese National Peo­ple’s Congress, to Male ear­lier in May has also caused height­ened dis­com­fort, forc­ing In­dia to in­crease its mil­i­tary pres­ence in the Mal­dives.

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