The Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims there is evidence that the Maritime Silk Road was discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinpeng’s visit to India in September.
“Publicly available documents clearly indicate that the maritime silk route was one of the points of discussion during the Chinese Presidential visit to India,” read today’s press release.
The ministry today referred to a press release from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated September 18, which detailed the talks between the heads of state before including what appear to be unattributed quotes from President Xi himself.
“Both sides should accelerate the construction of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, conduct cooperation within the frameworks such as the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to promote the process of regional economic integration and connectivity,” read the Chinese foreign ministry press release.
However, comments from the Indian minister of external affairs released by the Indian High Commission in Malé on November 7 stated the issue “was neither raised nor discussed” during President Xi’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A 28 point official joint statement released at the conclusion of the September visit also failed to mention the silk road initiative. The statement has not been published by the Chinese foreign ministry.
Shortly after India’s rebuttal, the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by noting Dunya’s “concern if her choice of words had led to any confusion”.
Today’s statement from the ministry followed the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) announcement that it would bring a no-confidence motion against the foreign minister in the Majlis, as well as calling on the speaker to prosecute her under the Privileges Act.
“The people of Maldives is gravely concerned with MDP and MDP sympathetic media pushing forward the interest of a foreign country while ignoring the Maldivian interests,” added today’s foreign ministry statement.
Minister at the President’s Office Ibrahim Shareef, yesterday explained that the “false” allegations spread by the opposition were being shared with both the Indian and Chinese governments.
“Everything they write, be it written in Dhivehi, have been translated and shared with the relevant authorities.I think it is about time they start preparing responses to the international community, which is going to demand answers soon,” explained Shareef.
Fellow cabinet member Dr Mohamed Shainee had told the media on Sunday November 9 that the Indian response to the comments were not necessarily indicative of the government’s view.
“We saw the news recently where the minister of a neighbouring country said something and it was said that it wasn’t the government’s view but the view of an individual minister,” said Shainee during a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) press conference.
Minivan News was unable to obtain comment from the Indian High Commission today, with official procedures requiring approval from New Delhi before the issuance of public statements.
The PPM had accused the opposition of twisting the story in order to harness attention from the international community and to divert attention from the one year anniversary of President Abdulla Yameen’s term.
Yameen has responded favourably to urgings from the Chinese government to join the Silk Road scheme, which seeks to create both land and maritime trade routes linking China to the east coast of Africa and the Mediterranean.
Today’s foreign ministry statement concluded by reiterating that Yameen’s decision to participate was taken with the aim of protecting Maldivian sovereignty while ensuring that national and regional security would be considered.
“[A]s Maldivian national security is closely linked to the Indian Ocean’s security, the government will engage in discussion with all relevant nations before making decisions which might endanger the security of the region.”