Maldives to back U.S. vision for the Indo-Pacific . . .
In an interview with the South China Morning Post on the margins of the Raisina Dialogue, India's annual multilateral conference on geopolitics and geo-economics held in mid-January 2020, Maldives’ Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid indicated support for the U.S. vision of FOIP. Shahid also stated that his country shares security concerns regarding China’s attempts to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean and it is fully committed to the U.S.-led strategy, which he does not see as an attempt to contain China, but rather as a way to maintain stability and freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean.
Geopolitics of Maldives . . .
The Maldives is an archipelago located about 600 km southwest of India, in the middle of key shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean. The South Asian island nation has recently grown in strategic importance and has long been a scene of intense rivalry for influence between India and China. Beijing recently increased its engagement in the country and made significant investments in infrastructure projects, seeing it as a key part of the investment route along its Belt and Road Initiative. While former President Abdulla Yameen was considered pro-China, current President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih leans closer to India and wants to scale down Chinese influence in his country.
Seeking stability after a political crisis . . .
As a recent democracy, the Maldives went through political turmoil in 2018. Former President Abdulla Yameen was accused of corruption and abuse of power, and was eventually defeated by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. If the election of Solih was seen as a watershed moment for the political future of the Maldives, the president now faces various challenges such as implementing much needed political and economic reforms and finding the middle ground in his country’s engagement with both India and China. With the Maldives siding with the U.S. vision of FOIP, it will be interesting to see how the current government manages its relations with China going forward.
- The Economic Times: Maldives on same page with India on Indian Ocean stability
- Deutsche Welle: The Maldives seeks political stability in crucial parliamentary vote
- South China Morning Post: Why are China and India so interested in the Maldives?