Opinion

REVEALED: The Secret Chinese Airstrip Emerging In Maldives

Livefist is privileged to announce that we start a special series today by COLONEL (RETD) VINAYAK BHAT (@RajFortySeven), a veteran military satellite imagery specialist. Each of Bhat’s columns, starting with today’s on Chinese activity in Maldives, will offer an insightful deep-dive on activity by India’s neighbours in the neighbourhood, providing a sharp, visual data-driven and incisive view of the region and how it’s changing.

Maldives is archipelago republic of 1190 islands’ chain approximately 130km South of Minicoy Islands of India in the IOR. The early settlers to these islands were Dravidians who were later joined by Sinhalese, Sindhis and Austronesians. Dhivehi – the national language which sounds like a mix between Malayalam and Sinhalese.

Maldives came onto the radar of Indian foreign policy when Male was attacked by Sri Lankan Tamil militant group in November 1988. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom requested India for help. Promptly, Indian troops were sent to the rescue of the Maldives government and the coup attempt was brought under control and peace restored. The Operation Cactus was a great success appreciated throughout the world. The action by India brought to fore the quick reaction capability by the Para Regiment and IAF who landed on a militant controlled airport in the thick of the night without proper maps or navigation. The relations with India gained strength and became strong.

The Chinese interest in Maldives started in 2009 after President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30 years reign came to an end. The diplomatic relations with India took a drastic turn when elected President Mohamed Nasheed was forced to resign and Mohammed Waheed, an unkown personality until then, took over as the President. Nasheed had pro-India leanings which were possibly not liked by the Chinese. The Male International Airport expansion contract to an Indian company GMR, Delhi came under scrutiny and was scrapped, without attributing any particular shortcomings, by the Waheed government.

Related:   Singha's Maldives plan on track

Present Situation

Maldives thrives on tourism and fishing industries. Since 2009, the Maldives tourism has taken a new turn. Chinese government has pursued the policy of subsidising air travel to certain countries of its interest.1 Thus, China is actually controlling tourism in Maldives to pressurise the Maldivian government.2 The numbers are manipulated and news controlled to give varying impressions to tourists.3 Some of the misconceptions were addressed by a few news media in Maldives.

In 2013, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, became President. The country has been in political turmoil since then. All political opponents of Yameen were put behind bars including the Vice President, Defence Minister etc. Many like the Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, supposedly the most influential lady in Maldives, also resigned without assigning reasons.

The GMR’s arbitration case in International Tribunal for compensation of $ 270Mn for cancellation of contract has been settled by payment through a mysterious “foreign investor” read “China”.

Full details are available from the link below:

Source URL: Bing News :

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