After years of struggle and weathering the dictatorial regime headed by Abdulla Yameen, Maldives is once again witnessing a mood of festivity. The democratically elected government has assumed charge and is in the process of chalking out a revival plan for the country so as to help a common Maldivian’s dream translate into reality.
No sooner than the new dispensation came into being, the anti-democracy machinery has started working overtime and media houses belting out stories with a motive. Recently, Nikkei Asian Review, a on-line news portal , carried out a story that the new coalition government is going to compromise the sovereignty of the country as it has agreed to an Indian military base in Maldives in return of 1 billion USD. The money is to be utilized for repaying Chinese debt.
The issue caught attention of many in main-stream as well as social media so much so that Maldivian Foreign office issued a statement clarifying the reports were baseless and unfounded.
It is pertinent to mention that the new government has just assumed office and has barely started to function. The government has a huge agenda before itself , apart from revival of economy and retiring the Chines debt. As the new government lays emphasis on having stronger diplomatic relations with other countries, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid paid a visit to India and UAE to strengthen bilateral relations and improve trade relations.
As Maldives finds itself in Chinese debt trap, the issue weighs heavily on the minds of current regime. The matter has been made worse by lack of clarity about the deals. The outstanding loans from China, which was initially estimated to be USD 1.5 billion has now escalated to USD 3.7 billion and equals 60% of our GDP. While Maldives is impatient to retire the debt, China is keen to foil such attempts so that it can make the current regime buckle under pressure, enabling China to negotiate with new government from the position of strength and ensure continuation of its engagements with Maldives, unaltered.
Hence the news doing rounds on social media was perhaps intended to whip-up nationalist sentiments so as to block any prospective aid from friendly nations and perpetuate Maldivian reliance on China.
Need less to say that the government has several challenges before itself, To help it meet those successfully, we ought not create hurdles on its way and lend credence to such vilifying news reports.