“Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned visit to the Maldives tomorrow has set off alarm bells in India’s foreign policy establishment amid worries that the atoll nation may, after a brief hiatus, again be swinging strategically away from New Delhi and closer to Beijing,” writes Charu Sudan Kasturi for the Telegraph.
Xi will be the first Chinese President to travel to the country, when he lands in Male on Sunday with First Lady Peng Liyuan and over 100 businessmen. Xi and his wife, one of China’s best-known singers from the 1980s,will then visit Sri Lanka on Monday before flying to India on Wednesday for a three-day trip.
The Chinese President’s visit to the Maldives comes less than a month after its President, Abdulla Yameen, travelled to Beijing and returned with promises of free financial aid and investments in key infrastructure projects.
Yameen, after his election in November last year, had said strengthening ties with India would be his priority following a bruising two years in bilateral relations, and had sent initial signals that comforted New Delhi.
But away from the public eye, relations between India and the Maldives have once again become testy over the past few months over diplomatic and strategic decisions taken by Yameen that hint at a subtle but growing proximity to China, senior officials have said.
‘We’ve been off the ball a bit on the Maldives, and things are tricky again,’ an official said. ‘The Chinese President’s visit to the Maldives is emblematic of that simmering unease.’ ”