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China expresses anxiety as crisis in Maldives unfolds

China on Monday expressed anxiety about the unfolding crisis in the Maldives, advising its citizens to avoid travel to the archipelago till the on-going tensions there subside.

“China suggests that Chinese citizens who are preparing to go to the Maldives in the near term to postpone going until the situation on the ground stabilises,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a regular briefing.

The Foreign Ministry’s statement follows growing tensions in the Maldives after the country’s Supreme Court had ruled on Friday, that the trial of the former President Mohamed Nasheed was unconstitutional. He had also ordered the release of nine lawmakers — a step that would have restored the opposition’s majority in parliament, threatening the survival of the government of President Abdulla Yameen.

Instead of complying with the court’s ruling, the government has suspended parliament.

‘It is like a coup’

Speaking from Sri Lanka, Mr Nasheed said that the government’s refusal to comply with the highest court’s orders amounted to a coup.

He called for the immediate resignation of President Yameen, known for his close ties with China. He also exhorted the security forces to abide by the country’s constitution.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement precedes the upcoming spring festival holidays when people travel in droves to the picturesque and strategic Maldivian islands in the Indian Ocean.

Trade relationship

Last month the Maldives became the second South Asian country after Pakistan to sign a Free Trade Area agreement with China, during Mr Yameen’s visit to Beijing.

Mr Geng said that China had asked authorities in Male “to take necessary measures to earnestly protect the security of the Chinese enterprises, situations and personnel.”

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Source URL: The Hindu

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