India Not an ‘Occupier But Liberator’: Maldives’ Nasheed to China
Amid repeated calls for India's military intervention by exiled former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, China on Wednesday, 7 February, warned against any military intervention in the Maldives, saying such a move would further complicate the situation.
The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago plunged into a political chaos last week when the country's Supreme Court ordered the release of nine high-profile political prisoners, including Nasheed, maintaining that their trials were "politically motivated and flawed.”
Nasheed Slams China
Nasheed slammed China’s statement saying that asking Maldives to solve matters internally would escalate chaos and that India always played the role of liberators whenever Maldives was in crisis.
Nasheed, who is currently in exile in Sri Lanka, had on Tuesday, 6 February, tweeted that India should send an envoy, backed by its military, to release judges and leaders of political parties detained by President Abdulla Yameen.
When asked to comment on Nasheed's call to India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the international community should "play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the Maldives sovereignty instead of taking measures that could complicate the current situation."
Asked how the situation could resolved internally when Yameen has arrested the Supreme Court judges as well as former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Geng said China's stand is that relevant parties should find a solution internally.
Without mentioning India, Shuang said:
I made myself clear. We hope relevant parties in the Maldives can properly resolve the issue through consultation and restore national stability and social order as soon as possible. We believe they (have) wisdom and capability to address the situation independently.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang
Geng skirted a question whether China is asking Yameen to hold talks with political parties to resolve the crisis.
He also sought to refute allegations by the Maldives opposition parties that China is backing Yameen because he has approved several Chinese projects and signed the controversial Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China during his visit to Beijing in December 2017.
"China maintains friendly cooperation with the Maldives, including the FTA, which serves the common interests of the two countries. The facts have proven that signing the FTA cooperation has benefited the two peoples," Geng said.
"The current situation in Maldives is its internal affairs. China follows the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others," he said.
China, which has huge investments in the Maldives, however, has asked thousands of its nationals to cancel their holiday travel plans for this month's week-long Chinese New Year holiday which begins on 15 February.
China views the Maldives as key to its Maritime Silk Road project in the Indian Ocean as it has already acquired Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
The Chinese official media, which was silent since the crisis broke out in Maldives last week, came out in support of Yameen's regime.
The Global Times, a part of the ruling Communist Party of China's publications, came out with an editorial saying India must stop intervening in Male.
"Political struggles are supposed to be internal affairs, and New Delhi has no justification to intervene in Male's affairs. The Maldives must be under huge pressure from India," it said.
"The Maldives' sovereignty should be respected. The political unrest should be left to the Maldivian people to address. We urge all sides in the country to exercise restraint and end the crisis at the minimum cost, striking the correct balance between legal and governmental authority," it said.