Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Indian journalists held in Male; China chants non-interference

Indian journalists held in Male; China chants non-interference

"China's aid to the Maldives has no political strings attached and does not harm the Maldives' sovereignty and independence at all, still less jeopardize security in the Indian Ocean", Geng said at a regularly scheduled news conference.

Almost 1.4 million people visited the Indian Ocean island nation past year and nearly a third were from China. The exiled President Mohamed Nasheed asserted on Twitter said, "Maldivians see India's role positively: in (19) 88 they (Indian forces) came, resolved the crisis, and left".

Four days after the ruling, President Yameen declared the state of emergency and arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed. "Pakistan firmly believes that the rule of democracy and Constitution must be upheld and allowed to take its course", the Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday.

The Maldives have been in crisis since last week, when the Supreme Court quashed convictions of nine opposition figures ranging from corruption to terrorism, including that former president Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader.

"The worldwide community should play a constructive role in promoting the Maldives' stability and development on the basis of respecting the Maldives' wishes", Wang said. He subsequently imposed a 15-day emergency and detained two top judges.

"As India tries to establish itself as the preeminent power in the Indian Ocean region, the Maldives have become increasingly important", said Constantino Xavier, a fellow at Carnegie India in New Delhi.

Through its belt and road strategy, Beijing is trying to revive old trading routes on land and sea, linking China across Asia to Africa and Europe.

At stake for China is the free trade agreement it has signed with the Maldives, which has been criticised by opposition leaders in Male.

"The worldwide community should play a constructive role from a position of respecting the Maldives' sovereign rights, rather than taking actions that will complicate the situation", foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, when asked about the possibility of military intervention.

Concerns are growing that China may eventually engage in land reclamation in the Maldives similar to what Beijing has done in the South China Sea, according to David Brewster, an academic at the Australian National University. He has sent representatives to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, apart from China, to seek support.

Saudi Arabia is a key backer of Yameen along with China.

"While these three countries have elevated their ties to Male. when the chips are down, they will be of no major effect", he said. "Countries all around the world are warning their citizens from visiting us and the tourism sector is losing business more than ever".

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