Muizzu’s folly: Antagonising India to appease China - The Tribune India

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Muizzu’s folly

Antagonising India to appease China

Muizzu’s folly

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EARLIER this week, the Maldives announced that China would provide free ‘non-lethal’ military equipment as well as training to its soldiers under a newly inked agreement. This is Male’s first military cooperation deal with Beijing, which had so far assisted it with urban and economic development. The pact comes days after Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu issued the ultimatum that no Indian, uniformed or civilian, would man India-deployed helicopters after May 10.

The move to send back uniformed Indian military personnel was on the cards after Muizzu won the presidential elections last year. He had campaigned mainly on the ‘India Out’ plank, which viewed all assistance provided by India with a jaundiced eye. Muizzu even called India a bully. But External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar hit back by saying that big bullies did not provide $4.5 billion when their neighbours were in trouble. They also ‘don’t make exceptions to their own rules to respond to food demands or fuel demands or fertiliser demands because some war in some other part of the world has complicated their lives,’ Jaishankar asserted.

Muizzu should remember that the Maldives needs all the friends it can have. Lacking in healthcare and education facilities, its mainstay is tourism, a fickle sector which is the first to be hit by hostilities or shortages. India has responded to the expanding Chinese military footprint by commissioning a new naval base at Minicoy island, a mere 125 km from the Maldives. There is weariness in the Maldives over Muizzu’s unending grandstanding against India — the Opposition won the politically important Male Mayor’s seat he had vacated. India is probably sending out a message by naming the naval base INS Jatayu, after the mythological bird from the Ramayana that was the first responder when Sita was abducted by Ravana.

#China #Maldives


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