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Business News/ News / World/  Maldives welcomes China's military delegation amid retreat of Indian troops
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Maldives welcomes China's military delegation amid retreat of Indian troops

China's move suggests that the country seeks to build closer ties in South Asia to assert its influence and counter its strategic rival, India

The Chinese delegation visited the Maldives and met with pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu. (AP)Premium
The Chinese delegation visited the Maldives and met with pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu. (AP)

China recently sent a military delegation to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal to discuss further cooperation in defence issues. This development comes after the newly elected Maldivian President, Mohamed Muizzu, asked Indian troops to withdraw from the country by March 15.

China’s move suggests that the country seeks to build closer ties in South Asia to assert its influence and counter its strategic rival, India. China has also heavily invested in upgrading the Maldives’ infrastructure and extended loans to it.

Also read: ‘China supports Maldives in...’: What Beijing said as Indian troops begin withdrawing from the island nation

As per a report by Mihaaru newspaper, a total of 25 Indian troops deployed in the southernmost atoll of Addu left the Maldives on March 10. The Maldives had signed a “military assistance" deal with China last week and had ordered Indian troops deployed in the small but strategically placed archipelago to leave.

Also read: Indian military begins exit from Maldives after pro-China president’s order

According to sources, the Chinese delegation had visited the island country and met with pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu, and also visited Sri Lanka and Nepal from March 4 to 13. 

The Chinese military, in a statement on its official WeChat account, said that in all three countries, they exchanged views on military relations and regional security issues of common concern. The post further read, “A series of consensus was reached to further enrich defence cooperation between the PLA and the relevant countries."

Also read: Maldives snubs India over hydrographic survey deal after signing military pact with China

The delegation of officials from the military’s international military cooperation delegation department, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), held discussions relating to “in-depth consultations on promoting bilateral defence cooperation." 

China’s commercial interest in these three nations has led it to improve ties, as half of its oil imports pass through the region of the Indian Ocean.

Also read: India slips to 6th rank on Maldives Tourism charts as President Mohamed Muizzu welcomes China

Maldives’ newly elected, President Mohamed Muizzu, swept into power in September by using the “India Out" campaign to win elections. Following his victory, the Maldives President paid his first state visit to China and pivoted its ties with India. In his election campaign, he had vowed to remove the Indian military presence of about 75 personnel from the island nation.

Also read: Maldives purchases drones from Turkey for patrolling after inking deal with China

China would provide Maldives with “military assistance," a media report citing the Maldivian defence ministry stated.

For India, Maldives is a key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that occupies a special place in its initiatives like SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the Neighbourhood First Policy.

(With agency inputs)

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Published: 14 Mar 2024, 10:38 AM IST
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