New Delhi: Amid the crisis in the Maldives, China on Monday denied allegations made by former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed that Beijing is engaging in grabbing land in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.
“Recently, former Maldivian President Nasheed made a lot of false remarks in the Indian media. He pointed fingers at the practical cooperation between China and Maldives and alleged that China engaged in so-called land grabbing of Maldivian islands, which undermines the security of the Indian Ocean region,” Ji Rong, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy, said in a statement.
“These allegations are apparently groundless with no regard to facts, Ji Rong said.
In an interview to a newspaper, Mr Nasheed had sought India’s help, saying the Maldives is facing with two problems – radical Islam and China’s attempts at land grabbing.
He had said China is talking about investing $40 million in the Maldives, but the purpose is not known, adding this problem was a not a bilateral but a multilateral one and sought India’s intervention.
Mr Nasheed’s comments came amid the crisis in the Maldives and after President Abdulla Yameen rushed through parliament a free-trade agreement with China last year, which went against Male’s “India First” policy.
China has been trying to make inroads in the Maldives because of the country’s strategic location. Experts say the Maldivian crisis could well become a new power struggle between India and China.
Ji Rong, in his statement, said that in recent years, “on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, China and the Maldives have been cooperating on infrastructure and livelihood projects… and these measures have been widely welcomed by the Maldivian people”.
“As a matter of fact, when Nasheed was the President, China and Maldives have already launched relevant cooperation projects. The land grabbing allegation by Nasheed is apparently meant to serve certain political purposes of him,” the statement said.
The Maldives plunged into crisis after Mr Yameen declared a state of emergency and refused to follow the Supreme Court’s order that called to free jailed political leaders.
Mr Yameen has sent special envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia even as New Delhi declined to host the Maldivian Foreign Minister.