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Amid strained ties with India, Maldives upgrades relationship with China; signs 20 'key' agreements
Maldives|China
Image tweeted by Maldivian President's Office

Amid strained ties with India, Maldives upgrades relationship with China; signs 20 'key' agreements

| @indiablooms | 10 Jan 2024, 11:05 pm

Amid a strained relationship with India, Maldives Wednesday upgraded its relationship with China during its newly elected President Mohamed Muizzu's first state visit to Beijing.

At the Great Hall of the People, Chinese President Xi Jinping called Muizzu "an old friend" and promised more investment in Maldives.

"China and the Maldives' relations are facing a historic opportunity to carry forward the past and forge ahead into the future," Xi told Muizzu, as reported in Chinese state media.

"During the talks, President Dr Muizzu expressed gratitude for China's significant role in the Maldives' economic success... and infrastructure development," a statement from his presidential office read following the meeting.

A total of "20 key agreements" were signed between the two countries "marking a significant step in bilateral relations", as per an official statement released by the Maldivian President's office.

Muizzu took over as President in November 2023. In his election pledge, he said he would remove a small contingent of some 75 Indian military personnel in his island nation and change Maldives's "India first" policy.

Muizzu, who is seen as a pro-China politician, took oath as the eighth President of the Maldives after defeating his India-friendly predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential run-off held in September.

The new Maldives President met PM Narendra Modi in Dubai on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in December 2023. Both leaders had agreed to set up a core group to discuss the multidimensional relations and further deepen ties.

The upgrade in the relationship between Maldives and China came at a time when India-Maldives ties were already strained after President Mohamed Muizzu came to power.

Recently, Indians have expressed anger against Maldivian authorities on social media after its Minister Mariyam Shiuna’s disparaging comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "clown" and "puppet" in posts on X, which have since been deleted.

These tweets were removed following criticism and backlash on the micro-blogging site.

Other Maldivian officials, including another minister named Zahid Rameez, also mocked Prime Minister Modi's visit to Lakshadweep after the photos garnered significant attention on social media as many drew comparisons between Modi's visit and the Maldives.

Meanwhile, India already shares a troubled relationship with China ever since the troops from both countries engaged in clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in June 2020, resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers. China had confirmed the death of four soldiers.
 

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