Maldives: The Game Changer?

China and India – the two often opposing neighbours in Asia – have set an example as the political crisis deepens in the Maldives.
(Perhaps) for the first time, the two houses of power have joined hands in order to resolve the crisis in a third country. Beijing has started holding talks with New Delhi, as it doesn’t want the Maldives to become another flashpoint with India.
Earlier this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that no external power should interfere in the crisis. Beijing issued the statement after New Delhi hinted that the Indian Armed Forces might arrive in Male soon. However, the Narendra Modi government clarified that the purpose of such a move would be to safeguard the interests of Indians living in the island nation.

President Yameen with Chinese President Xi Jinping

It is to be noted that the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued the statement after Indian Prime Minister Modi discussed the issue with US President Donald Trump over phone. The Modi-Trump dialogue has made it clear that India is eager to assist the Maldives to resolve the crisis as soon as possible. Political experts are of the opinion that the telephonic conversations between the Indian PM and the US president have prompted Beijing to issue the statement.
Geng Shuang, the senior spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, recently urged the international community to respect sovereignty and independence of the Maldives, saying: “The current situation in the Maldives is its internal affairs. It should be properly resolved through dialogue and consultations by all relevant parties.” According to the spokesperson, the crisis should be resolved through peaceful negotiation, and not through military intervention.

Geng Shuang

Earlier, President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen arrested the top opposition leaders. He became more desperate when the Supreme Court (SC) ordered their release. Then, the president declared a ‘State of Emergency’ and detained two SC judges. Even, President Yameen detained his predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Under pressure, another SC bench cancelled the release order of the opposition leaders.
Meanwhile, leader of the main opposition party – Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – and another former President Mohamed Nasheed (currently in exile in Sri Lanka) has urged his countrymen to overthrow the Yameen government. He also requested India to send Armed Forces to Male and to help the people of his country ‘restore’ democracy.

Mohamed Nasheed

Realising that the situation is going out of his hand, President Yameen immediately sent his Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed to Beijing in order to get the assurance of Chinese assistance. According to sources, President Yameen also wanted to send his foreign minister to India. However, New Delhi was not interested in hosting the president’s envoy.

Narendra Modi

China has rightly realised that India is not ready to co-operate with the Yameen administration. So, Beijing has started discussing the issue with New Delhi. According to diplomatic sources, China has made the move in an attempt to avoid the US’ interference in the Maldivian crisis.

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