Maldives president Mohamed Muizzu threw a veiled jab at India amid the continuing diplomatic tensions with New Delhi. Following his five-day tour to China, Mohamed Muizzu stated in a news conference, “We may be small but this doesn’t give them the license to bully us.”
The announcement coincides with a diplomatic spat between India and the Maldives over politicians’ disparaging remarks regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lakshadweep, which led to the removal of three ministers from office on January 7.
“Though we have small islands in this ocean, we have a vast exclusive economic zone of 900,000 square km. Maldives is one of the countries with the biggest share of this ocean,” he averred, “This ocean does not belong to a specific country. This (Indian) Ocean also belongs to all countries situated in it. We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state.”
“The two sides agree to continue firmly supporting each other in safeguarding their respective core interests,” a joint statement by China ad Maldives stated further adding, “China firmly supports the Maldives in upholding its national sovereignty, independence and national dignity, respects and supports the Maldives’ exploration of a development path that suits its national conditions, and firmly opposes external interference in the internal affairs of the Maldives.”
The president of the Maldives has urged Beijing to “intensify” its efforts to increase tourism to the island nation from China.
“China was our (Maldives’) number one market pre-Covid, and it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position,” he said.
Twenty agreements were inked by China and the Maldives, including one on tourism cooperation aimed at bringing more Chinese visitors to the island nation.
“Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 52 years ago, the two countries have always respected and supported each other,” it added.