South Asia and Beyond

Maldives Inks Pact For Free Military Assistance From China

 Maldives Inks Pact For Free Military Assistance From China

Maldives and China have strengthened their bilateral relations by signing two military agreements. The agreements were signed by Maldivian minister of defence Ghassan Maumoon and Major General Zhang Baoqun, deputy director of office for international military cooperation.

Welcoming the agreement, Chinese ambassador Wang Lixin to the Maldives said that Beijing looked “forward to more exchanges and defence areas in the future”.

The details of the agreement are not known except for the fact that Beijing will provide Maldives military assistance at no cost.

This deal signifies the ever-increasing military and strategic ties between the countries.

It comes at a time when Maldives-India relations have nosedived. President Mohamed Muizzu had come to power on an anti-India pitch. He solidified the country’s relations with China resulting in a possible recalibration of power and influence in the region as Maldives occupies a strategic position in the region.

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In a recent visit to China, Muizzu claimed that Beijing fully supported the Indian Ocean island’s sovereignty and said that no country will influence the island-nation’s foreign policy, in an indirect jibe at India.

Recently, Male allowed a Chinese research vessel to dock at Male port despite concerns that Beijing may use the ship to collect data from the Indian Ocean Region for military purposes.

At President Muizzu’s insistence, New Delhi has begun to replace military pilots and crews with civilians for the two Indian-gifted helicopters and an aircraft used for medical, humanitarian and surveillance missions.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held on April 21. Muizzu will be hoping his party (PNC-People’s National Congress) improves its position so he is able to pursue his legislative agenda. Currently, the 93-member parliament is dominated by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former president Ibrahim Solih. The PNC recently lost the election for mayor of Male, the capital.

Bilateral relations between Male and New Delhi flourished under former Maldives Presidents Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Mohamed Nasheed.