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Maldives Strengthens Ties with China Through Defense Cooperation Agreement

March 5, 2024 10:37 am

Maldives Strengthens Ties with China Through Defense Cooperation Agreement

In a significant geopolitical development, the Maldives signed a defense cooperation agreement with China on March 5, solidifying their bilateral relations. This agreement, which includes the provision of free military assistance to the island nation, comes shortly after Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu requested the withdrawal of a contingent of Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives.

The Defence Minister of the Maldives, Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon, engaged in discussions with Major General Zhang Baoqun, Deputy Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China, to bolster defense cooperation between the two countries. The outcome was the signing of an agreement, the details of which have not been disclosed, outlining China’s commitment to providing military assistance to the Republic of Maldives.

The Maldivian defense ministry announced on its official handle, “Maumoon and Major General Baoqun signed an agreement on China’s provision of military assistance gratis to the Republic of Maldives, fostering stronger bilateral ties.”

This move follows China’s gift of 12 eco-friendly ambulances to the Maldives, further highlighting the deepening ties between the two nations. The Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives, Wang Lixin, presented the ambulances in a ceremony at the Ministry of Health.

The Chinese military delegation’s visit to the Maldives coincided with the docking of the Xiang Yang Hong 03, a hi-tech Chinese research ship, for the “rotation of its personnel and replenishment.” This development follows concerns raised by India over Chinese research vessels in the Indian Ocean Region collecting data for military purposes.

Amidst these developments, India has confirmed the deployment of its first civilian team of technical experts to replace military personnel operating an advanced light helicopter in the Maldives. President Muizzu, viewed as a pro-China leader, has set a deadline of March 10 for the withdrawal of the first group of Indian military personnel from the country.

The evolving dynamics in the Maldives underscore the complexities of regional geopolitics, with strategic interests and alliances taking center stage. As the geopolitical landscape shifts, the Maldives finds itself at the intersection of competing influences, posing challenges for its relationships with key regional players.

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