Sovereignty First: Maldives President Addresses Diplomatic Challenges

Amid diplomatic tensions, Maldives President Muizzu asserts national sovereignty, emphasizing resilience against external pressures. His comments follow a high-profile state visit to China, signaling geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean region.
Sovereignty First: Maldives President Addresses Diplomatic Challenges

After a high-profile state visit to China, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu returned to his country, striking a defiant tone amidst a diplomatic row with India. The President's comments come against the backdrop of a controversy involving derogatory social media posts by three Maldivian ministers against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Muizzu, considered a pro-China leader, asserted that while his country may be small, it doesn't grant others the license to bully. He refrained from naming any specific country but emphasized Maldives' territorial significance, pointing out its vast exclusive economic zone spanning 900,000 square km.

During his state visit to China, Muizzu held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, resulting in the signing of 20 agreements between the two nations. A joint statement issued after the talks highlighted mutual support in safeguarding core interests and China's firm backing for Maldives' sovereignty and independence.

Sovereignty First: Maldives President Addresses Diplomatic Challenges
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In a media briefing upon his return, Muizzu disclosed that China had granted USD 130 million in assistance to the Maldives. The majority of this assistance will be allocated to the redevelopment of roads in the capital city, Male, where mayor elections were concurrently being held.

Muizzu, a former Mayor of Male before assuming the presidency in November, explained that the USD 130 million assistance would be disbursed for various developmental projects. He underlined the importance of grants in supporting infrastructure development.

China's Ambassador to Maldives, Wang Lixin, who accompanied Muizzu on his visit, emphasized three key factors contributing to the strong relations between the two countries. These factors include mutual political trust, alignment with President Xi's initiatives, and the principle of extensive consultation, joint construction, and shared benefits.

The ambassador mentioned that the elevation of bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership during the visit would provide a strong political guarantee for future cooperation.

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Muizzu's state visit to China faced challenges, particularly with India, due to derogatory remarks by Maldivian ministers against Prime Minister Modi. Additionally, a report from the EU Election Observation Mission highlighted anti-India sentiments deployed by the ruling coalition during the 2023 presidential elections.

Despite these challenges, the visit resulted in significant agreements, including a USD 50 million deal for developing an integrated tourism zone in Hulhumale and constructing 30,000 social housing units in Rasmale. China will also provide grant assistance for a 100-bed tertiary hospital in Vilimale.

Maldives and China also signed an agreement allowing the Maldivian national airline, Maldivian, to conduct domestic flight operations in China.

The visit underscored the complex geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean region, with Maldives balancing relationships between major powers. The diplomatic intricacies, coupled with economic agreements and geopolitical shifts, set the stage for a nuanced narrative in the evolving geopolitical landscape.


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