The new Maldives Government which will be formed under Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the nation’s presidential election by a margin of 16.7% defeating Pro-China, Abdulla Yameen. With the exit ‘authoritarian’ Yameen Government, India has been jubilant and celebrating the moment as a big diplomatic victory over Beijing, but the Chinese media thinks differently.
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Maldives’ relationship with China was one of the principal concerns during the election campaign. Relations with China were termed as a major factor in the Maldives presidential election and there were two teams – pro-China and anti-China. But the presidential election in the Maldives is supposed to have nothing to do with other countries, be it China, India, or any Western nations, states the Chinese Global Times.
The Maldives was caught up in a political disaster earlier this year when the troops in riot gear surrounded the country’s Supreme Court in Malé. Security forces detained an ex-president, which put Yameen under tremendous pressure and faced an immense backlash. Some say the disaster was “the result of a standoff between President Yameen and the Supreme Court.” But India was aggressively working behind the scene, claims the report.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Maldives in September 2014. Male then kicked off its participation in China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Joint projects include the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge and other major infrastructure programs. The Maldives was unsuccessful in completing these projects and sought China’s assistance, which raised alarm in India. New Delhi accused Yameen of cooperating with China, criticised the BRI initiative, and accused Beijing of projecting power in the Indian Ocean.
India has had a strong influence on the Maldives, so it played a significant role in the political crisis. That’s also the reason why Maldives’ China policy became a significant topic during the presidential election, the result of which may somewhat affect the Male’s ties with Beijing.
During the campaign, Solih said many things that India approved of. Will he become a pro-India president remains to be seen. According to the article, there isn’t any independent sovereign nation’s leader who is simply pro one country, instead, they are pro self-interest.
From this prospect, if Solih wants to protect Maldives’ national interest, he needs to judge the consequences. He needs to evaluate if unilateral and pro-India policies are in accord with Maldives’ interest.
Solih won the presidential election. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is bound to launch unilateral and pro-India policies, unless they are totally in line with the country’s interest. The truth is, they will only harm Maldives’ interest.
Western countries think that no major country wants to collaborate with a small country such as the Maldives without any strategic purposes. China believes the Indian Ocean is crucial, but Beijing doesn’t even have a complete Indian Ocean strategy.
However, when Beijing built support facility in Djibouti, the move attracted widespread attention from Western countries, which speculated that China is trying to expand its influence. These episodes, including the Maldivian presidential election, have reminded Beijing that it may face increasing risk in its further overseas investment.