Nasheed snubs China: ‘India, Maldives ties over 2,000 years’

PTI Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on Friday said it was wrong for China to expect that the Maldives would take its side and said India’s relations with the island nation is 2,000-3,000 years old. Nasheed, who is in Delhi for an international conference, said India does not conduct diplomacy like western countries and is “very sophisticated”.

He explained his country’s relations with India and China in this way. “We (India and Maldives) have been together for 2,000-3,000 years…. Someone can’t splash some money and ask me to go to bed.” He was responding to questions on China wooing Maldives with projects worth billions of dollars through its Belt and Road Initiative at an interaction organised by Brookings India in Delhi.

Nasheed is in India to participate in a seminar on South-South cooperation by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, an autonomous think tank of the Ministry of External Affairs.

His presence in Delhi comes at a time when the Maldives government led by President Abdulla Yameen, Nasheed’s arch rival, is on the back foot in Parliament. The Opposition, led by Nasheed’s party, is trying to bring a no-confidence vote against Yameen’s key supporter, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.

Nasheed added that he has been allowed here, despite being a “convict”. “Our relationship with India is not based on our fortunes, but for the good of people of Maldives and security of the Indian Ocean.” “India is the world’s biggest democracy and it is difficult to see it remaining quiet or idle (about the developments in the Maldives)…. We have high expectations from India, and I believe India will deliver. In fact, it is delivering,” Nasheed said. “Indian diplomacy is not rolled out like western diplomacy,” he said, adding that New Delhi doesn’t act the way other countries act.investment in public health infrastructure.

“(Jawaharlal) Nehru did not build a state to bully people. India doesn’t jump or react. They maintain a sophisticated response,” he said. On which side is Maldives going to take as both China and India jockey for influence, he said, “We have taken a side long ago. Foreign policy for me is very simple… Find a friend, be good to a friend…”

“What’s happening in Bhutan, Nepal, and in Maldives, should we be sandwiched. We are taking our side, not taking India’s side. When we have a power or water crisis, our neighbour comes to rescue…. We won’t change sides for concrete…. Development is not concrete,” he alluded to China building massive “concrete” infrastructure in Maldives.

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