Maldives Said They Did Not Participated In China-Indian Ocean Forum On Development Cooperation Organized By China

Maldives-China Relations: The Foreign Ministry of Maldives has refused to participate in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation”. This forum was organized by China on 21 November. The Foreign Ministry of Maldives issued a statement on Sunday (November 27) saying that the ministry wants to clarify that the Maldivian government did not participate in the forum. Also, on November 15, 2022, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Maldives was informed about its decision not to participate.

The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) issued a joint press statement alleging Maldivian participation in the “China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation” held on 21 November 2022. Furthermore, the Ministry of External Affairs stated that the participation of any private individual or groups of individuals from Maldives does not constitute an official representation of the Government of Maldives.

What did the Foreign Ministry of Maldives say?

The Maldivian Foreign Ministry said that according to Article 115 (j) of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, only the serving President can determine, conduct and oversee the country’s foreign policy. Only a serving President can conduct political relations with foreign nations and international organizations. Official recognition of meetings, forums and conferences to represent the Maldives will, in accordance with international practice, be through diplomatic channels only. The statement added that no official representation was made from the Maldivian government for this specific meeting.

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China had made this claim

China this week organized the first high-level China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on development cooperation. In which according to China, 19 countries of the region participated except India. The forum was hosted by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA). According to a press release issued by CIDCA, high level representatives from 19 countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, Tanzania, Mauritius, Djibouti, Seychelles were present in the forum. .

Many countries are indebted to China

Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Maldives are among the biggest borrowers of China. According to Forbes, Pakistan owes $77.3 billion in debt to China. The Island Online reported that Maldives’ debt is 31 percent of its gross national income (GNI). Maldives’ total debt by the end of 2020 stood at MVR 86 billion, of which MVR 44 billion is external debt.

China is reaching most countries under the One Belt and Road Initiative. In 2022, 37 percent of China’s debt is outstanding on the world’s low-income countries. Maldivian newspaper reported that according to the data released by the Ministry of Finance, the debt of Maldives increased to MVR 99 billion by the end of Q1 2022. It was 113 percent of the GDP. China has faced criticism for its practices of lending to poor countries. China rejects this criticism and calls it propaganda to tarnish its image.

Improvement in India-Maldives relations

Meanwhile, Maldivian Voice reported that despite former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen’s efforts to damage India-Maldives bilateral ties, relations between the two countries are still flourishing. The report said that bilateral relations between India and Maldives have improved since Ibrahim Mohamed Solih became the President.

Recently, the Maldivian President during his visit to India in August signed several agreements to take the bilateral partnership to the next level, especially in the area of ​​infrastructure and connectivity. This was Solih’s third visit after taking charge.

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