The Maldives is likely to abolish the agreement with China to build an observatory in the Indian Ocean, as the relationship between Maldives and India grow after the ouster of former President Abdulla Yameen who was a staunch supporter of China.
The agreement to build an observatory in Makunudhoo was made during former president Abdulla Yameen’s regime. However, new sources suggest that the agreement might not be followed through.
China claimed that the agreement to build the observatory in the westernmost atoll of the Maldives in the north, titled Protocol on Establishment of Joint Ocean Observation Station was for scientific purposes and clarified that it would only be used as a meteorological ocean observation centre.
However, India discerned it as China’s Strategy of Encirclement and deemed it as a threat. Indian retired navy officials and strategic experts perceived it as China’s attempt to acquire precise hydrological data for military operations such as the deployment of Nuclear-Powered Submarines (SSN) and Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs).
China denied the accusations clarifying that the observation centre was not meant for any military purpose and there was no ulterior motive behind it.
After the recent visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first full-fledged visit by an Indian PM in 8 years and after the change in leadership the situation has drastically changed, favouring India. In a significant message to the Maldives, which is said to owe more than half of its external debt to China, Modi said during the visit that India’s developmental partnership wasn’t meant to empower other, not weaken them by increasing their dependence on India.
Former president of the Maldives and the current parliament speaker, Mohamed Nasheed stated the Maldives shouldn’t even try to balance relations with India and China and stated that the Maldives can’t afford to have defence cooperation with China. Nasheed remains a stalwart supporter of India.