Diplomatist Magazine Diplomatist April 2018 - Page 48

PERSPECTIVE CHINA’S RISING INFLUENCE IN THE MALDIVES AND SOUTH ASIAN POLITICS BY RITU AGARWAL* I ndia faces yet another crisis in her neighbourhood. The Maldives’ political turmoil has once again made China and India a contender in South Asian regional politics. The Maldives has acquired new geo-strategic signifi cance as China has shown its active involvement in the Indian Ocean region. There have been frequent reports of multiple deployment of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean. China has also developed many ports in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The geographical location of Maldives makes it strategically important for both China and India. Maldives shares much closer geographical proximity to India, located just 340 km away from the Indian coast. India has traditionally enjoyed stable political relations with the country, especially during the leadership of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The reports about China’s search for a new naval base in Southern Maldives made India cautious about China’s plan in her neighbourhood. China wants to get access to the strategically relevant Indian Ocean region. The present political leadership in Maldives seems to be having more favourable equations with its Chinese counterparts than the India. Though India has tried to revive bilateral political ties, there still exist vast political difference between the two governments. China’s new maritime strategy to secure sea lanes in its favour to meet her oil and energy 46 • Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist • Vol 6 • Issue 4 • April 2018, Noida