The home ministry on Sunday responded furiously to “blatantly false” claims by former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem that Maldivian islands could be used for Chinese military bases.
In an interview with India’s The Tribune, Naseem accused the government of “giving land to China which could be converted into military bases. China is grabbing land everywhere and has 16 islands in Maldives today.”
Condemning the allegations as an attempt to incite fear and disrupt diplomatic relations, the home ministry assured in a statement that the current administration would not endanger the Maldivian people or pose any threat to neighbouring countries.
“This government has always been working to maintain our small nation as the most beautiful and peaceful in the world,” it added.
It appealed against bringing the country into disrepute with false claims that “affect the Maldives’ peace and stability” and vowed to investigate and take action.
Naseem went on to say that China’s “predatory territorial policies” are detrimental to free trade and Indian Ocean security.
“India needs to put its foot down and say this is not acceptable to us… India has a major role to play in restoration of democracy in Maldives,” he told the paper.
In February, China rebuked similar claims by former president Mohamed Nasheed about threats to Maldivian sovereignty from the alleged land grab.
Both the opposition and major global financial institutions have expressed alarm over borrowing from China to fund projects worth US$1.5 billion, warning that inability to repay could lead to loss of islands.
But the government says the accumulating debt is necessary for investments with longer-term payoffs.