Maldives Forges Military Ties with China Amidst Shift in Foreign Relations

Last Updated on March 5, 2024 3:12 am

In a significant move, the Maldives government inked an agreement with China on Monday, extending military assistance without any cost. Major General Zhang Baoqun, Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China, and Maldives Minister of Defense Ghassan Maumoon formally sealed the deal, solidifying defense cooperation between the two nations.

The visit of Major General Zhang included discussions on enhancing defense collaboration, marking a new chapter in the relationship between China and the Maldives. While this agreement marks a notable development, it coincides with President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s commitment to reducing foreign military presence, specifically from India.

President Dr. Muizzu, leading the current administration, had vowed to deport Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives, signaling a departure from the policies of the previous government. Efforts have been initiated to send back Indian soldiers responsible for operating Dornier aircraft and helicopters gifted by India.

Furthermore, President Dr. Muizzu emphasized that the Maldives would no longer permit foreign military presence in an official capacity. This stance represents a shift from the approach of the previous MDP-ruled administration under former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, which had maintained strong ties with India and was often characterized as “pro-Indian” by international media.

In response to labeling him as “pro-China,” President Dr. Muizzu asserted his commitment to being “pro-Maldives.” Since taking office, he has consistently fostered close relations with China, marking a shift in the geopolitical dynamics of the Maldives. As the nation navigates these diplomatic changes, the agreement with China introduces a new dimension to its defense strategy, raising questions about the evolving alliances and the broader geopolitical landscape in the Indian Ocean region.

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