Drawing parallels between the erstwhile East India Company and China, former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed said Beijing has grabbed more land than the East India Company had ever done. “In the last few years, without a single shot being fired, China has grabbed more land than the East India company had ever done. If I were to take this contract to commercial arbitration, it will be same as somebody in Kolkata taking East India company to arbitration,” Nasheed was quoted as saying by ANI.
In his address to the Indian Ocean Conference in Male, in which India is also a participating country, Nasheed said that during the last five years, a large amount of commercial money had come to the Maldives, they have been invested or spent on inflated projects and most of these projects are funded by China’s Exim bank. “Get hold of a government, buy up a parliament, change the laws, get unsolicited contracts then inflate the price of the contract to the level due to which business plans failed here. Give commercial loans and then, off course, they will not be able to pay it back. When you can’t pay back, they ask for equity and with equity, you relinquish sovereignty, including the peace of the Indian Ocean. I am referring specifically to China,” Nasheed was quoted as saying by ANI.
Nasheed, who served as the fourth President of the Maldives from 2008 to 2012, was the island nation’s first democratically elected president.
He, however, said that the Maldives would like more foreign investment and Chinese investment, but impinged on transparency in the tendering process, particularly in the case of China. “It must have democratic oversight and we must be able to benefit from the investment. It can’t be vanity projects,” said the former president.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today met Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and assured him of India’s “fullest commitment” in the Island nation’s development. Jaishankar is in the Maldives to attend the 4th edition of the Indian Ocean Conference (IOC).
“Thank President @ibusolih for receiving me. Conveyed PM’s (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) greetings and appreciation for implementing ‘India First’. Assured him of our fullest commitment. Congratulated Maldives on the outstanding organisation of #IOC2019,” the minister tweeted.
In a separate event, Jaishankar, along with his counterpart Abdulla Shahid, also laid the foundation stone of the new building of the Indian Embassy. “Laying a strong foundation for future India-Maldives ties,” he tweeted. “With FM @abdulla_shahid at the site of the new Embassy building,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)