Strength­en­ing De­fense Ties

Southasia - - Briefing -

The Mal­dives De­fense Min­is­ter, Mo­hamed Nazim re­cently vis­ited China to meet with the Chi­nese De­fense Min­is­ter, Gen­eral Liang Guan­glie in an at­tempt to deepen bi­lat­eral mil­i­tary ties. Both coun­tries cur­rently en­joy pos­i­tive diplo­matic en­gage­ments but hope to fa­cil­i­tate stronger de­fense re­la­tions. The visit from the Mal­di­vian min­is­ter comes at a time when the is­land coun­try is fac­ing a diplo­matic row with In­dia over the can­cel­la­tion of GMR In­fra­struc­ture’s con­tract to build the Male In­ter­na­tional Air­port. How­ever, Mal­di­vian Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Wa­heed Hasan has de­nied any in­flu­ence from China to oust the project.

China views the Mal­dives through its strate­gic lo­ca­tion in the In­dian Ocean. In an at­tempt to diplo­mat­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally in­tim­i­date In­dia, China has forged deeper ties with most of In­dia’s neigh­bors and given South Asia’s largest democ­racy much rea­son to fret. The Mal­di­vian De­fense Min­is­ter be­lieves that ce­ment­ing re­la­tions be­tween China and the Mal­dives will pro­vide the is­land na­tion with the mil­i­tary skills it des­per­ately needs. How­ever, Gen­eral Liang has ex­pressed his views to main­tain mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tions with the Mal­dives and not to in­ter­fere in in­ter­nal af­fairs. The Mal­dives has main­tained peace­ful re­la­tions with all its South Asian neigh­bors but cre­at­ing mil­i­tary ties is a ne­ces­sity. Fur­ther­more, the Mal­dives holds a strate­gic lo­ca­tion in the In­dian Ocean as China’s Mid­dle East­ern oil ship­ping routes from the Per­sian Gulf pass near the Mal­div- ian sea bor­der. There­fore, the Mal­dives could be used as a shield to pro­tect China’s mar­itime oil im­ports from the Mid­dle East.

Though Sino-Mal­di­vian diplo­matic re­la­tions com­menced in 1972, they were par­tic­u­larly strength­ened dur­ing Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Nasheed’s ten­ure. Apart from the growth in the tourism in­dus­try, cap­i­tal in­flows from China are also a rea­son why the Mal­dives is an­tic­i­pat­ing a long last­ing re­la­tion­ship with China.

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