Amid diplomatic row with India, Maldives to get military boost from China

0
36

Amid a diplomatic row with India, Maldives is set to get free military assistance from China. Beijing on Monday signed a defence cooperation agreement with the Maldives to provide free military assistance to foster “stronger” bilateral ties.

This comes after Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu set a deadline for the withdrawal of the first group of Indian military personnel from his country amid heightening strain on the ties between the two countries.

Defence minister of the Maldives Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon met with Major General Zhang Baoqun, Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China, to discuss enhancing defence cooperation between the two countries.

Maumoon and Major General Baoqun “signed an agreement on China’s provision of military assistance gratis to the Republic of Maldives, fostering stronger bilateral ties,” the Maldivian defence ministry posted on its X handle.

Not just the free military assistance, but China has also gifted 12 eco-friendly ambulances to Maldives, Edition.mv news portal reported on Monday. The same was announced during a ceremony held at the Ministry of Health on Sunday, attended by Chinese Ambassador to Maldives Wang Lixin.

The visit of the Chinese military delegation to the Maldives is taking place days after India confirmed that its first civilian team of technical experts has reached the island nation to replace the military personnel operating an advanced light helicopter in the country.

Earlier, President Muizzu established a deadline of March 10 for the withdrawal of the first group of Indian troops from his country.

“The first team of technical personnel to operate the advanced light helicopter has reached the Maldives. It will replace the existing personnel who were operating this platform,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in New Delhi at his weekly media briefing on February 29.

India-Maldives diplomatic ties shaken

The ties between India and Maldives have remained strained ever since Muizzu came into power in November 2023. Seen as a pro-China leader, the Maldivian president asserted after coming into power that he would maintain his promise of evicting Indian military personnel from his country.

The tensions between the two countries further heightened in January 2024, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his visit to the Lakshadweep islands. Three ministers from Maldives’ cabinet made derogatory comments on social media when PM Modi posted the photos from his trip.