The Maldives is a ‘challenge’ because of its pivot to China, India’s naval chief has said.
Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lamba told media Wednesday that India would continue to work its smaller South Asian neighbour despite its inclination towards Beijing, with his comments suggesting that relations are yet to fully recover from months of tension and bickering.
China’s growing presence and a controversial state of emergency in the Maldives have been the two main sources of tension in recent times for India, which has found itself out in the cold in its own backyard.
The Maldives earlier this year also skipped an India-led naval exercise, citing a “heightened stance of readiness” because of the state of emergency.
“Maldives is a challenge at the moment,” Lanba was quoted as saying by Indian media.
“The present government in Maldives is more inclined towards China. The constitution has been tweaked and some islands have been given to the Chinese for development.
“There is no news at the moment of any listening post in the Maldives. There is some development that is going on,” he said, a possible reference to a Chinese maritime observatory being built.
“We (India) have an EEZ patrolling (exercise) that we regularly do with Maldives. The one (exercise) previously held had been called off by the Maldivian government, but that has been re-commenced.
We continue to train their personnel. We just finished a special forces training camp. We will continue to work with the Maldivian government,” Lanba added.
He was reported to be speaking an event at the Vivekananda Foundation International.