Beijing: China on Wednesday opposed any military intervention in the Maldives, saying such a move would further complicate the situation, a day after former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed sought India’s help to resolve the political crisis in the island nation.
The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago plunged into a political chaos last week when the country’s Supreme Court ordered the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, maintaining that their trials were “politically motivated and flawed".
When asked to comment on Nasheed’s call to India, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “The international community should play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the Maldives sovereignty instead of taking measures that could complicate the current situation."
Nasheed, who is currently in exile in Sri Lanka, has yesterday tweeted that India should send an envoy, backed by its military, to release judges and leaders of political parties detained by President Abdulla Yameen.
Asked how the situation could resolved internally when Yameen has arrested the Supreme Court judges as well as former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Geng said China’s stand is that relevant parties should find a solution internally.
“I made myself clear. We hope relevant parties in the Maldives can properly resolve the issue through consultation and restore national stability and social order as soon as possible. We believe they (have) wisdom and capability to address the situation independently," he said without mentioning India.
Geng skirted a question whether China is also asking Yameen to hold talks with political parties to resolve the crisis. He also sought to refute allegations by the Maldives opposition parties that China is backing Yameen because he has approved several Chinese projects and signed the controversial Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China during his visit to Beijing in December.
“China maintains friendly cooperation with the Maldives including the FTA which serves the common interests of the two countries. The facts have proven that after signing of the FTA cooperation has benefited the two peoples," Geng said.
“The current situation in Maldives is its internal affairs. China follows the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others," he said.
Opposition party leaders in the Maldives allege that China is tacitly backing Yameen, which emboldened him to resort to unconstitutional actions like arresting Supreme Court judges.
China, which has huge investments in the Maldives, however has asked thousands of its nationals to cancel their holiday travel plans for this month’s week-long Chinese New Year Holiday which begins on 15 February.
China views the Maldives as key to its Maritime Silk Road project in the Indian Ocean as it has already acquired Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
The Chinese official media which was silent since the crisis broke out in Maldives last week came out today in support of Yameen’s regime.
The Global Times, a part of the ruling Communist Party of China’s publications, came out with an editorial saying ‘India must stop intervening in Male’. “Political struggles are supposed to be internal affairs, and New Delhi has no justification to intervene in Male’s affairs. The Maldives must be under huge pressure from India," it said.
“The Maldives’ sovereignty should be respected. The political unrest should be left to the Maldivian people to address. We urge all sides in the country to exercise restraint and end the crisis at the minimum cost, striking the correct balance between legal and governmental authority," it said.