Has China Admitted 1st Major Diplomatic Loss To India in the “Battle of Asia”?

India and China continue to battle over small South Asian nations including Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. With the loss of pro-China government of President Yameen in the Maldives, China is perturbed by the US warning to outgoing President to hand over powers smoothly. EurAsian Times analyses how unhappy Beijing has responded via its state media, asking the US not to support India in the Battle of Asia.

Earlier as reported by EurAsian Times, the power tussle between India and China over the Maldives has got the US involved. A top state department official of the US said – Washington would be forced to take “appropriate measures” against anyone who threatens the peaceful transition of power in the Maldives,  taking a direct aim at China-backed former president Abdullah Yameen.

Chinese Global Times states that the Maldives has just seen the election victory of the opposition candidate against Abdullah Yameen, who is seeking to overturn his election defeat.

“Washington is concerned by disturbing actions by Yameen that threatens to undermine the will of the Maldivian people, and will consider appropriate measures against anyone who undermines a peaceful transfer of power in the Maldives,” State Department Spokesperson Robert Palladino posted on Twitter.

The report claims that “These remarks by the US seem to have boosted Delhi with extra confidence, as Indian media believe the US warning was a hint for China”. The Maldives is seen as India’s traditional sphere of influence by both India and the US.

A power shift in South Asian countries is common and what the other nations should do is adjust to the flow of political change in that country and try to form favourable ties with the new leadership. Risks do exist as collaborative projects with the previous government may get cancelled by the new, and it tests the intellect of relevant parties to retain positive energy and advance bilateral relationships.

The report claims that Beijing has not interfered in the politics of another country. In the case of the Maldives, China welcomed Male to participate in its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. When the opposition leader who vowed to review Chinese projects won the election in late September, China also expressed willingness to deepen cooperation with the country and cement their long-standing association.

Many observers view elections in South Asian nations as a head-for-head battle for influence between China and India, as in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

The report states that US strategic goals often align with those of India based on Washington’s intention to counter China’s rise. US interests are better served by helping India get an upper hand in the region. Therefore the US will support pro-India forces in a country while denouncing others.

The report finally states that China does not see elections in South Asian countries as a win-or-lose game with India. But it does not want to see India, along with the US, view the region as their sphere of influence and woo regional countries to counter China. They may not be able to prevent China’s rise in the region, but they can put regional peace and development at risk.

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