In the Maldives, where both India and China have influence, the move of Muizzzu, who is pro-Chinese, has caused a setback for India.
Gatepass for India, carpet for China! Why is the Maldives, which received India’s help, behaving like this?
During the election campaign, Muizzu had lashed out at outgoing President Ibrahim Solih, accusing him of allowing his nose into the island nation’s affairs and surrendering the country’s sovereignty by allowing Indian troops to be stationed here.
“India’s foreign army is here. If any other country’s forces were here, my reaction would have been like this,” he denied Chinese influence.
70 Indian Army personnel sponsored by the Government of India are manning radar stations and reconnaissance fighter jets in the Maldives. Indian warships are helping to patrol the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Maldives.
Muizzhu has said that he has already started talks with the Indian government to clear his military presence, and claimed that those talks have already been successful.
“We want a mutually beneficial bilateral relationship. No other country’s troops can be deployed in place of Indian troops. India’s suggestion to withdraw its personnel does not mean that I will allow China or any other country to bring its troops here,” he said.
India and China rivalry
Muizhu’s victory has intensified the tussle between India and China for influence over the island nation in a sensitive part of the Indian Ocean. Both India and China have invested heavily in the infrastructure upgrade and additional credit facility of the Maldives.
The US and its allies like Japan and Australia have tried hard to keep China away from the Maldives and strengthen its Asian rival India. Maldives was much closer to India under Solih regime. Now Muizhu has taken a different step by clearing out the Indian forces. He asserted the need to achieve trade balance with all the neighboring countries of South Asia.