Maldives snubs China: ‘We have ties with India for over 2,000 years, will never support China’

Amid an ongoing tussle between India and China, the former got a support of one more neighbor. Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said it was wrong for China to expect that the Maldives would take its side and said India’s relations with the island nation is 2,000-3,000 years old.

Nasheed, who currently in Delhi for an international conference, said India does not conduct diplomacy like western countries and is “very sophisticated”. He explained his country has relations with India and China in this way. “We (India and Maldives) have been together for 2,000-3,000 years…. Someone can’t splash some money and ask me to go to bed.” He was responding to questions on China wooing Maldives with projects worth billions of dollars through its Belt and Road Initiative at an interaction organized by Brookings India in Delhi.

His presence in Delhi comes at a time when the Maldives government led by President Abdulla Yameen, Nasheed’s arch rival, is on the back foot in Parliament. The Opposition, led by Nasheed’s party, is trying to bring a no-confidence vote against Yameen’s key supporter, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.

Nasheed further added that he has been allowed here, despite being a “convict”. “Our relationship with India is not based on our fortunes, but for the good of people of Maldives and security of the Indian Ocean.” “India is the world’s biggest democracy and it is difficult to see it remaining quiet or idle (about the developments in the Maldives)…. We have high expectations from India, and I believe India will deliver. In fact, it is delivering,” Nasheed said. “Indian diplomacy is not rolled out like western diplomacy,” he said, adding that New Delhi doesn’t act the way other countries act.

“India’s first Prime Minister Nehru did not build a state to bully people. India doesn’t jump or react on any issue. They maintain a sophisticated response,” he said.

His response was lauded by people when he was asked that on which side Maldives is going to take as both China and India jockey for influence, he said, “We have taken a side long ago. Foreign policy for me is very simple… Find a friend, be good to a friend…”

“What’s happening in Bhutan, Nepal, and in Maldives, should we be sandwiched. We are taking our side, not taking India’s side. When we have a power or water crisis, our neighbor comes to rescue…. We won’t change sides for concrete…. Development is not concrete,” he alluded to China building massive “concrete” infrastructure in Maldives.

We would like to appreciate Nasheed’s open support for India and we believe Maldives can be a key player in Indian Ocean to thwart any misadventure by China.

Manish Sharma