NEW DELHI: China has reached out to India after pro-Beijing Abdulla Yameen lost in Maldives by suggesting that India and China may work jointly in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation and even went on to suggest that the incumbent president lost due to his high-handed policies.
State-run Global Times has published a series of articles since Monday on Maldives poll results, which according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry has confused Beijing.
In one of the articles titled ‘China, India should cooperate in Maldives’, the Global Times suggested that India and China can do joint projects in Maldives and Indian companies can utilise Chinese facilities in Maldives.
“Some Western media outlets say Solih’s victory deals a potential blow to China and he will likely adopt an anti-China stance. However, mainly domestic political factors were behind the election results. For instance, with Opposition leaders and judges arrested by the Yameen government, the Opposition party got united amid public concerns about damage to democracy and the rule of law,” the article claimed in what would indicate that Beijing is trying to distance itself from Yameen.
Reaching out to India the article suggested, “In fact, it shouldn’t be a one-or-the-other game for China and India in the Maldives. China invests in the Maldives as it is needed by the nation, a normal cooperative practice between two countries. China neither has the intention nor the need to shut out India on the archipelago…In fact, the building of infrastructure by China in the Maldives has created favourable conditions for the business and personnel of Indian companies on the island country. China and India can actually help boost Maldives’ development by using their own strengths.”
“Beijing has come up with a constructive “two-plus-one” mechanism — China and India plus another South Asian country — as a demonstration of sincerity. The mechanism can not only enhance mutual trust between China and India, but prevent other South Asian countries from being caught in between. This aims to harmonize relations between countries and serves the interest of all relevant parties, and is worth a careful consideration by New Delhi. Perhaps the two powers can have a try in the Maldives first,” the state-run newspaper further suggested.
Md Nasheed, former Maldives President and close ally of President Ibu Solih, has declared to review all the agreements that Maldives had signed with China under Yameen’s five-year rule between 2013-2018, hours after his MDP won the presidential polls.
Maldives, a small economy relying heavily on tourism, is one of the most at-risk countries of any involved with the BRI to the distress of debt, said the Center for Global Development, a Washington DC-based think-tank tracking the initiative.
Chinese loans for projects already account for around 70% of the Maldives’ national debt. In 2014, China began to develop major infrastructure projects. One is a bridge linking the capital Male to a nearby island. The other is an expansion of the capital’s airport, a project awarded to a Chinese company in 2014.
The Maldives has also leased an uninhabited island (Feydhoo Finolhu) to a Chinese enterprise for 50 years at a price of around $4 million, with plans to develop infrastructure for tourism. China is also constructing a 25-storey apartment complex and hospital in the Maldives.