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Maldives

After upsetting news for the Indian foreign policy establishment from Sri Lanka (99-year-long lease of Hambantota port to China) and Nepal (China-leaning Left alliance poised to form government after winning elections), there is yet another blow to South Block (India’s power corridors) from its neighbour and SAARC member, Maldives. The Indian Ocean nation, comprising 1,192 islands, with a total area of 298 square kilometers, and having a population of just a little over four lakh, has poked India in the eye.

 

Last week, Maldives rushed through the much-criticised Free Trade Agreement with China in the Parliament, a move which is being perceived in New Delhi as Male cosying up to Beijing. This is also Maldives’s first FTA with any country. Now that the agreement has been signed between China and Maldives, India on Thursday said it expected the Indian Ocean archipelago nation to be sensitive to New Delhi’s concerns.

 

A 14-day joint military exercise — Ekuverin — of Indian army and the Maldives National Defence Force will begin on Friday at Belgaum in Karnataka, a press communique issued by the Southern Command Headquarters, Pune, said.

 

The controversial China-Maldives free trade agreement (FTA) is expected to open the doors of trade in 64 different fields in Maldives for China while the Asian monolith will open trade doors in 98 fields to Maldives.

 

The Maldives, an island paradise for tourists, is ruled by a geopolitical serpent. The Maldivian president, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, has been using Chinese money and Saudi Arabia-backed Islamicism to throttle his country’s democratic polity.

 

The education ministry violated public finance rules by illegally spending nearly MVR900,000 (US$58,365) and failing to collect MVR8 million owed as loan repayments, according to the ministry’s audit report for 2015.

 

The Maldives government signed a free trade agreement with China during a visit to Beijing by its leader, Abdulla Yameen, it said on Friday, despite criticism from the opposition over the speed at which the deal was concluded.

 

A well-being poll of Maldivians could give the first indication of how people might vote in presidential elections next year.

 

The announcement of a free trade agreement between the Maldives and China is another sign of Beijing’s success in its outreach in South Asia.

 

Maldives Trade Union (MTU) has expressed concern of possible transitioning of Maldives back to the Indian 'Vora' traders' era over the current progress in Maldives-China free trade agreement.

 


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