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Business News/ News / World/  'New Delhi should stay more open-minded': China amid Maldives- India ‘derogatory’ remark row
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'New Delhi should stay more open-minded': China amid Maldives- India ‘derogatory’ remark row

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu visits China to strengthen bilateral ties amid a row with India. China's state media highlights their long-standing tourism ties with the Maldives.

Beijing: Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu and First Lady Sajidha Mohamed being welcomed upon their arrival in People�s Republic of China, on Monday (PTI)Premium
Beijing: Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu and First Lady Sajidha Mohamed being welcomed upon their arrival in People�s Republic of China, on Monday (PTI)

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has landed in China, to strengthen bilateral ties with Beijing. Muizzu, who is regarded as “pro-China",skipped a visit to India and visited China, unlike his predecessors. The China visit by the Maldivian President comes amid a row with India, wherein three ministers made ‘derogatory’ remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Lakshadweep visit. 

On Monday, China's state media Global Times, in an editorial, mentioned Muizzu's visit to the East Asian Nation, and referred to India's diplomatic row with the Maldives, and called for an "open-minded" approach to looking at South Asian issues.

As Indians boycott Maldives in retaliation to the derogatory remarks made on PM Modi, China highlighted in the editorial that since 2010 they have been the Maldives' largest source of tourists for 10 consecutive years.

Ties between India and Maldives took a hit when Muizzu defeated his India-friendly predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential run-off held in September.

The editorial by Global Times says China has always treated the Maldives as an equal partner and respected its sovereignty.

"It also respects the friendly and cooperative relationship between the Maldives and India, fully aware of the importance for Male to maintain good relations with New Delhi. Beijing has never asked Male to reject New Delhi because of the conflicts between China and India, nor does it view cooperation between the Maldives and India as unfriendly or a threat," the Chinese state media editorial said.

"It (China) is also willing to carry out trilateral cooperation between China, India and the Maldives. New Delhi should stay more open-minded, as China's cooperation with South Asian countries is not a zero-sum game," it said.

Muizzu's predecessors in the recent past visited India first, considering the wide-ranging bilateral ties and the Maldives' proximity to India, followed by China which has expanded its influence in the island nation by investing in major infrastructure projects there.

Muizzu, who was sworn in as President in November, chose Turkiye as his first destination for a foreign visit soon after his election followed by the UAE where he met Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) on December 1 and discussed the progress of the wide-ranging bilateral ties.

"Under normal circumstances, when a new leader comes to power, they arrange their visits based on the importance and urgency of the matters to be dealt with. President Muizzu broke tradition by visiting Turkey for his first official overseas visit instead of India," Global Times said.

The Maldives is India's key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the Neighbourhood First Policy' of the Modi government.

The Maldives' proximity to India, barely 70 nautical miles from the island of Minicoy in Lakshadweep and 300 nautical miles from the mainland's western coast, and its location at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean gives it significant strategic importance.

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Published: 08 Jan 2024, 04:42 PM IST
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