China is a long-lost cousin who is ready to help the Maldives, a top diplomat has said, assuring there will be no foreign military activity in the tropical tourist destination.
The Maldives’ ambassador to China Mohamed Faisal told the South China Morning Post that the country’s foreign policy was based on working with everyone and that all of its neighbours were “brothers and sisters.”
A political crisis sparked by the ruling and an ensuing state of emergency has increased tension between New Delhi and Malé.
India is also rattled by the Maldives’ closeness to China, which is lavishing money on South Asian countries as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.
“China would be a long-lost cousin that we have found… a long-lost cousin who is ready to help us. India is our brother,” Faisal said in the interview published Thursday.
“China is providing us the necessary means to finance our development. India will always have a very special place in the hearts of all Maldivians, not just our politicians.
“India should not fear that Maldives is trying to move out of its sphere of influence. There is no sphere of influence.”
China is backing projects worth at least US$1 billion in the exotic archipelago and Faisal said the government was confident it could pay its debts.
There is also an agreement for China to build a maritime observatory in Haa Dhaalu atoll.
Faisal said China was one of the Maldives’ closest commercial partners and that it looked to Beijing’s leadership in many areas, including the environment and global security.
“We’re not going to allow any military establishments or military undertakings in the Maldives,” he said. “Not for China, not for any other countries.”
He also rejected the idea there was a land-grab, echoing China’s foreign ministry which last month called such claims nonsense.
“You can’t buy land from Maldives,” Faisal told the SCMP. “We don’t sell land to anybody. There’s no way any foreign party can come and own Maldivian land. This is not true.”
Photo: Hussain Waheed/Mihaaru