Maldives push ahead with Chinese projects despite Indian concerns

India is a brother, but China is like a long-lost cousin found, Maldives Ambassador to China Mohamed Faisal has said, asserting that his country would push ahead with Chinese projects despite New Delhi’s concerns.

The Maldives will further embrace Chinese investment but is aware it risks getting caught between China and India, Faisal told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. “China is like a long-lost cousin that we have found, a long-lost cousin who is willing to help us,” he said on Thursday after Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen lifted a state of emergency in the troubled South Asian nation after 45 days.

“India is a brother. We are a family, we may quarrel and we may have arguments but in the end, we will sit down and resolve it,” the diplomat said. He claimed that the Maldives has taken a number of projects to India for finance “but we did not receive the necessary finance.”

China, which looks at Maldives as a major participant in its 21st century Maritime Silk Road plan in the Indian Ocean, has made heavy investments in the nation of islands which has 26 tropical atolls and 1,000 small islands. China has put up a staunch defence of Maldives President Abdullah Yameen, stonewalling international pressure and enabling him to stay in power during the current crisis.

The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago was plunged into chaos early last month when the Supreme Court called for the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, ruling that their trials were politically motivated and flawed.

The government refused to implement the ruling. Yameen imposed a state of emergency and arrested apex court judges and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Opposition party leaders in Maldives alleged that China is tacitly backing Yameen, which emboldened him to resort to unconstitutional actions like arresting Supreme Court judges. Former president Mohamed Nasheed who was in exile abroad had called for Indian intervention in Maldives to save the democracy in the island nation. He had alleged that China is indulging in land grabbing, threatening not just the Maldives, but the peace and the stability of the entire region. (Courtesy PTI)