‘We May Be Small But No One Has License To Bully Us’: Maldives President Amid Row With India | India News

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MALE: Returning from his high-profile five-day state visit to China, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu took an apparent dig at India, emphasizing that the size of his nation doesn’t grant others the authority to bully them. Muizzu’s statement follows a diplomatic dispute with India over derogatory social media posts by three Maldivian ministers targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Oceanic Sovereignty

President Muizzu, known for his pro-China stance, asserted Maldives’ significance, highlighting its extensive exclusive economic zone of 900,000 square km. He declared, “This ocean does not belong to a specific country. This (Indian) Ocean also belongs to all countries situated in it,” in a veiled reference to India.

‘We Aren’t In Anyone’s Backyard’

Addressing the media on his return, Muizzu emphasized, “We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state,” reaffirming Maldives’ autonomy amidst regional tensions.

Strategic Agreements With China

During his visit to China, Muizzu engaged in discussions with President Xi Jinping, culminating in the signing of 20 agreements. The joint statement highlighted mutual support in safeguarding core interests, emphasizing China’s backing for Maldives’ sovereignty and opposition to external interference.

China’s Financial Assistance To Male

China has extended substantial support to Maldives, granting USD 130 million in assistance. Muizzu revealed that the funds would primarily be allocated to the redevelopment of roads in the capital, Male. This support follows the elevation of bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

China’s Ambassador to Maldives, Wang Lixin, outlined three key factors contributing to the robust ties between the two nations: mutual political trust, alignment with President Xi’s initiatives, and adherence to the principles of extensive consultation, joint construction, and shared benefits.

Diplomatic Challenges With India

Muizzu’s visit to China was overshadowed by a diplomatic row with India, stemming from derogatory remarks by Maldivian ministers against Prime Minister Modi. Additionally, a report by the EU Election Observation Mission accused the ruling coalition of deploying anti-India sentiments and spreading disinformation in the 2023 presidential elections.

Despite the diplomatic tensions, China and Maldives signed a USD 50 million agreement for an integrated tourism zone in Hulhumale’ and the construction of 30,000 social housing units in Rasmale’. Further collaborations include the development of a 100-bed tertiary hospital in Vilimale’, signaling an expanded and sustained cooperation between the two nations.

Agreement On Flight Operations

During the visit, an agreement was reached to permit Maldives’ national airline, Maldivian, to conduct domestic flight operations in China. This move adds a new dimension to the growing partnership between the two countries.

The significance of this collaboration becomes even more pronounced considering the historical context, with India’s substantial contributions to the development of Maldives, including the establishment and enhancement of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male.

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