The exiled former leader of the Maldives says this year’s presidential election could be the last chance to extricate his country from increasing Chinese influence, which he claims amounts to a land grab in the guise of investments in island development.
Mohamed Nasheed told reporters in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, today that current President Yameen Abdul Gayoom (pictured in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping in December last year) has opened the doors to Chinese investment without any regard for procedure or transparency.
He said China is “buying up our lands, buying up our key infrastructure and effectively buying up our sovereignty.”
AFP cited him as saying: “This is colonialism and we must not allow it. We want other countries (in the region) to join us and speak the same language (against Chinese expansion). We are not against any country, not against direct foreign investment, but we are against relinquishing our sovereignty.”
Nasheed said 80 percent of the Maldives’ foreign debt was owed to China and the nation could end up handing over more land and infrastructure as it may not be able to repay the loans.
He was referring to Sri Lanka’s experience under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who borrowed heavily from China. The new government had to sell projects to repay debts, AFP reported.
Nasheed is disqualified from contesting the presidency this year due to a prison sentence. He is now living in exile in Britain after going there for medical treatment while in prison.
There was no immediate response from the government.-AP
Source URL: Bing News :