Trending TopicsIpl 2024Lok Sabha 2024

---Advertisement---

Maldives’ Economic Stability At Risk Due to $3 Billion China Debt: Implications For India-Maldives Ties And China’s Growing Influence

China's expanding presence in the Maldives through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) raises concerns about potential debt traps and Beijing's broader strategic objectives in the Indian Ocean region. Chinese investment in Maldivian infrastructure projects could enhance China's influence over the island nation's decision-making processes.

Edited By : Aniket Raj | Updated: Feb 17, 2024 20:59 IST
Share :
India Maldives relations
India Maldives relations

Maldives is currently facing a critical economic challenge, with a debt exceeding $3 billion to China posing a significant threat to its financial stability. This growing dependency on China raises concerns about the potential impact on its longstanding relationship with India and the broader geopolitical dynamics of the Indian Ocean region.

Under President Mohamed Muizzu’s leadership, the Maldives has deepened its engagement with China, relying on Beijing for substantial financial support. However, warnings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding the country’s mounting debt emphasise the need for urgent policy adjustments to avoid potential economic crises.

India-Maldives Ties

India and the Maldives share a rich history, cultural affinity, and geographic proximity, underpinning their close relationship. India has been a key ally, providing assistance in defence, infrastructure development, and humanitarian aid. Despite occasional setbacks, such as the Maldives’ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China in 2017, India remains committed to strengthening ties with the island nation.

Concerns Over China’s Influence

China’s expanding presence in the Maldives through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) raises concerns about potential debt traps and Beijing’s broader strategic objectives in the Indian Ocean region. Chinese investment in Maldivian infrastructure projects could enhance China’s influence over the island nation’s decision-making processes.

Also Read: BJP National Council Meet In Delhi, Setting Tone For LS Poll Campaign

India’s Response

India has responded to China’s growing influence by intensifying diplomatic and strategic engagement with the Maldives. Through economic assistance, infrastructure projects, and defence cooperation, India aims to bolster its influence in the region and counterbalance China’s rising dominance. India’s “Neighborhood First” policy underscores its commitment to supporting the Maldives’ development and sovereignty.

India therefore must navigate the evolving geopolitical landscape by prioritising development-oriented projects and addressing pressing issues such as youth unemployment in the Maldives. Infrastructure initiatives like the Greater Male Connectivity Project demonstrate India’s commitment to enhancing connectivity and strengthening its influence in the region. A balanced approach towards both India and China is essential for the Maldives to safeguard its interests and maximise developmental gains.

Given China’s assertive actions in the region, India’s role in ensuring Indo-Pacific security is paramount. Collaborative efforts between India and the Maldives, along with other regional partners, can contribute to enhancing maritime security and countering common threats such as terrorism and piracy.

The Maldives’ economic instability resulting from its substantial debt to China underscores the complex interplay between geopolitics and economic development in the Indian Ocean region. As the Maldives navigates its alliances with India and China, prioritising sustainable development and sovereignty will be crucial for its future prosperity and stability. Strengthening partnerships with India while cautiously engaging with China can help the Maldives achieve its developmental goals while safeguarding its national interests.

Also Read: Maldives Asks India To Withdraw Military Personnel Amid Existing Tensions, Sets March 15 Deadline

First published on: Feb 17, 2024 08:59 PM IST

Get Breaking News First and Latest Updates from India and around the world on News24. Follow News24 on Facebook, Twitter.

Related Story