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China-Backed Maldives Govt Tells India To Withdraw Military Choppers

Strengthening its relationship with the Maldives, China is building roads, bridges and an airport in the island nation.

The Maldives government has asked India to withdraw two of its military choppers from their territory, after an agreement between the two countries expired in June, reported Hindustan Times.

The Maldives’ ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, told Reuters that the two Indian military choppers were being used fort the purpose of medical evacuations. “They were very useful in the past but with the development of adequate infrastructure, facilities and resources we are now in a position to handle medical evacuations on our own,” he said.

According to reports, China is building roads, bridges and an airport in Maldives to solidify strengthening it’s relationship with the island nation. China opened an embassy in Maldives in 2011. This is a blowback for India, which has been providing military and civilian aid for decades to the tropical island.

Abhijit Singh, a former Indian naval officer, said the Indian military had deployed helicopters near the area where Chinese were present. “Now the issue is Yameen wants the helicopters out, but more importantly he wants the personnel out. It is not the helicopters that trouble him so much, it is actually the fact that there are these people there.”

“Yameen has invited China to do a lot of infrastructure building and he suspects that India is trying to keep a watch on what the Chinese are doing and so wants to keep the Indians out,” Singh added.

Maldives has also given a contract to the Chinese government to develop a few islands.

India’s relationship with Maldives have witnessed a major decline since 2015, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled a visit to Male. This was exacerbated in February this year, when India expressed opposition to the internal emergency announced by Prime Minister Yameen. As a consequence, many Indian workers in Maldives had had their work visas revoked in June this year.

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