China dismisses Nasheed’s claim of military base in Laamu Atoll

China has denied former President Mohamed Nasheed’s suggestions that the Maldivian government is planning to hand over large parts of Laamu Atoll to China for a military base.

A Chinese embassy press statement released yesterday described Nasheed’s allegations as “completely false”.

“It is a common knowledge that China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature”, read the press release. “China does not maintain any military in any foreign country”.

“China always upholds the five principles of peaceful coexistence in its foreign relations, and believes in peace, development, and win-win cooperation. This is also the foundation for China-Maldives relations which are not only mutually beneficial but also transparent to the outside world,” it continued.

While speaking to the press after returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi last week (January 22), Nasheed had alleged that the Maldives was to hand over large parts of the southern atoll to China for a military base on a 99-year lease, in exchange for US$2 billion.

While speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Laamu Atoll link road – to be built and financed by the Chinese government – last month, President Abdulla Yameen revealed that the government had identified the area as a potential special economic zone (SEZ).

Following the Chinese response, Nasheed today (January 25) tweeted: “it is encouraging to see the Chinese Government reconsidering their strategic plans in the Indian Ocean”.

Regional presence

China’s rising economic presence in the Indian Ocean region has stoked concerns in New Delhi that China is creating a ‘string of pearls’ to encircle India, including Chinese investments in ports and other key projects in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Last month, the Maldives officially agreed to participate in China’s Silk Road trade route, becoming the third country to do so, while also revealing that the two countries have agreed to engage upon free trade in the future.

Chinese state media has connected the Maritime Silk Road Project, which which will link China to the east coast of Africa and the Mediterranean, to the proposed ‘iHavan’ transshipment port – one of five mega-projects designed to take advantage of the US$18 trillion worth of goods transported across the seven degree channel annually.

The British armed forces maintained a base in Addu Atoll between the Second World War until 1976, while a leaked Status of Forces Agreement with the US in 2013 prompted speculation about a new military base, though this was subsequently denied by US officials.

President Abdulla Yameen was reported to have said, during a visit to Sri Lanka last year, that he had decided against pursuing the SOFA deal for fear of upsetting regional neighbours.

President Xi monitoring progress

The Chinese press release noted today that China had been a close neighbour of the Maldives for centuries, and that bilateral relations had “expanded greatly in recent years”.

“We hope that Maldivian politicians can conduct more dialogues that are conducive to China-Maldives friendly relations, and engage in more actions that could promote the mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries.”

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also reported today as saying that President Xi Jinpeng was closely monitoring the progress of the Hulhulé bridge project and development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) – both of which China has expressed an interest in.

An agreement for a feasibility study into the bridge linking the airport island of Hulhulé with the capital Malé was signed with China late last year, while financial arrangements for the development of INIA are said to be under discussion with China’s Exim Bank.

A preliminary contract agreement for the airport’s development was signed during President Xi’s visit to the Maldives in September – the first by a Chinese head of state to the Indian Ocean nation. President Xi expressed hope at the time that the bridge might be named the Maldives-China friendship bridge.

President Yameen has made clear his intention to further pursue already rapidly expanding ties with China, announcing a policy shift to the east while criticising the interference of western powers.

China also accounts for one third of all tourists visiting the Maldives.

Related to this story

Nasheed urges President Yameen to convene all-party talk

Maldives backs new Chinese investment bank, pursues free trade deal

Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for Maldives involvement in 21st century maritime silk road

President Yameen slams “Western colonial powers,” declares foreign policy shift to East

Defence Minister signs military aid agreement with China


8 thoughts on “China dismisses Nasheed’s claim of military base in Laamu Atoll”

  1. Tell me truth that has come out from Nasheed mouth.

    He is the biggest lier in this country .

    His action and words will totally opposite and that was the case during his dictatorship and still today.

  2. The day Maldvies agrees to host a Chinese base will the day Maldives ceases to exist as an independent nation.

    India will allow economic independence for Maldives, but any sort of Chinese military or naval presence will not be tolerated.

  3. The day Maldvies agrees to host a Chinese base will be the day Maldives ceases to exist as an independent nation.

    India will allow economic independence for Maldives, but any sort of Chinese military or naval presence will not be tolerated.

  4. China thinks it owns the world. It has territorial disputes with India, Japan, Philippines and Vietnam among others.
    Good luck with the proposed Silk Road trade route even though, apart from tuna, you have sod all to trade. It is cheap imports from India that keep you going.
    You can however, trade your tuna for cheap plastic goods and those annoying battery operated azaan clocks (popular in Saudi and Pakistan) that go Allahu Akbar at 4am and wake up the dead.

  5. “China does not maintain any military in any foreign country”

    Amusingly, it seems that China has a military attache' in its own embassy, which, may be loaned to local defense forces on bilateral agreement.

    But nah, the real military'll show up after SEZ land is leased to a PLA-held company. It is their right to defend their holdings from the likes of Imran.

  6. @MissIndia.
    You guys throughout Maldives go bankrupt when you put a sanction on Maldives after GMR was removed.

    Maldives existence in the world will not depend on India and India is not a God that had created Maldives.

    Indian are not giving free goods for Maldivian to trade and we are paying and buying goods . Indian business people are also getting huge amount of money through the trade.

    Don't think that being a large country with huge population, you can bully Maldives as you wish. This will be only in your dream.

    You cow worshipers can pray to your Cow God and then keep feeding the cow from the hard earned money by yourself. What a stupidity is this.

  7. @Hero: At least feeding a cow makes more sense than you slaving away, making sure a bunch of tyrannical despots ferret away all of Maldives' money in their swiss bank accounts!

  8. India and China are both equally important to the Maldives. As a Maldivian I want a good relationship between these two countries. Nasheed should learn to keep his talkative mouth shut. thanks


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