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India warned over ‘ill-willed provocation’ towards Maldives

Maldives-India relations have nosedived under the current government.



India’s “ill-willed provocation” towards the Maldives will push it away, Chinese state media warned Sunday.

The Global Times said Indian media and officials had gone “out of their way to try and discredit” a newly opened US$200 million China-backed bridge connecting the capital with the airport island and the suburb of Hulhumalé.

It cited media reports that India’s ambassador to the Maldives had boycotted the bridge opening ceremony, and that the ambassadors from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had turned back from the event because of parking issues.

President Abdulla Yameen’s government has watered down the country’s traditional ‘India-first’ foreign policy to successfully court investment and assistance from New Delhi’s geopolitical rivals – China, Pakistan – and Saudi Arabia. It has also jailed several pro-India opposition figures, including former presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“India’s frustration toward improving relations between China and the Maldives has been well documented,” said the Global Times.

“Fueled by unnecessary concerns over China’s cooperation with the Maldives, which India considers within its sphere of influence, Indian politicians have even threatened to invade the Maldives and have been very vocal about Maldivian domestic politics.

“Rather than trying to prevent improving China-Maldives relations through provocation, India should take the time to reflect and learn a lesson from China: that only mutually beneficial cooperation can bring friends closer together and that ill-willed provocation pushes friends away.”

The Global Times has published several hawkish pieces on Indian Ocean regional relations, with their tone veering from condescension to threats.

Last month it said the Maldives wanted to rid itself of “excessive Indian influence.”

Photo of Sinamalé Bridge from