Wait­ing for the Tsunami

The Mal­dives serves as a ful­crum for the emerg­ing power equa­tion in the In­dian Ocean.

Southasia - - REGION MALDIVES -

Ap­par­ently, the Mal­dives has more than just a beau­ti­ful face. This tourist get­away is fast be­com­ing known for its im­por­tance as a foothold in the re­gion for those who want to make their pres­ence felt.

The Mal­dives’ econ­omy is mainly sup­ported by tourism, but it needs to be de­vel­oped by other rev­enue gen­er­at­ing ven­tures and it is ex­tremely im­por­tant that it looks for other such av­enues.

It seems that it won’t be long be­fore the fate of the coun­try changes. Be­cause of its ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion,

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By Lubna Jerar Naqvi the Mal­dives is fast be­com­ing an im­por­tant re­gional ‘ pivot’ for trade in­ter­ests in Asia for coun­tries like the US and other west­ern na­tions, as well as a gate­way into the west for China.

The new gov­ern­ment - elected in 2013 - headed by Pres­i­dent Ab­dulla Yameen Ab­dul Gay­oom is seen chang­ing its di­rec­tion and look­ing at lo­cal al­lies. Un­like Mo­hamed Nasheed ear­lier, Pres­i­dent Yameen dis­carded pacts with the US and inked new ones with China. The Chi­nese Pres­i­dent came to the Mal­dives and signed nine agree­ments, with both gov­ern­ments agree­ing on the Mar­itime Silk Road ( MSR). This is an ini­tia­tive to in­crease in­vest­ments by China and was the brain­child of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in Oc­to­ber 2013. The MSR will al­low a smooth move­ment of trade from China all the way to Europe and be­yond. In the process it will also ben­e­fit other coun­tries ly­ing on the route.

The Yameen gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to shift fo­cus to­wards China ruf­fled a lot of feath­ers, es­pe­cially those of the op­po­si­tion. The MSR has only made mat­ters worse and is be­ing seen as an

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