Nasheed claims China setting debt trap; sees eroding ties with India weakening Maldives

The Democrats founder and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed; he criticized the current government's leanings toward China while distancing from Maldives' oldest ally; India -- Sun Photo/ Moosa Nadheem

Former President Mohamed Nasheed on Sunday, has claimed China was "debt trapping" the Maldives, and added the island nation has weakened by distancing itself from India.

Tensions between India and the Maldives began with the latter's "Anti-India" campaign led by then opposition and current government's top brass.

Following this, the relations further deteriorated after three high-ranking Maldivian government officials made derogatory remarks against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media. This led to a widespread "Anti-Maldives" boycotting effort launched by Indian netizens and celebrities alike.

Speaking with Sri Lankan news outlet "The Morning" Nasheed said it was futile for Maldives to oust India, the island nation's oldest ally, and added the South Asian giant was developing at a fast pace, which the Maldives should benefit from as well.

"I believe, we are currently at an even more sensitive spot after distancing ourselves from India. We need protection for our wealth and well-being, which is linked to India," Nasheed commented.

Besides this, Nasheed had in his interview criticized China as well.

He alleged China was inflating project costs to exploit Maldives' reliance on foreign allies in running developmental projects, while procuring their own equipment and personnel for the initiatives in a well-planned approach. Nasheed claimed this would eventually lead to debt traps set by China, which the Maldives would not be able to repay.

Nasheed, while arguing the countries in Indian Ocean should patrol and police the ocean also argued China had no right be present in the area.

"I know that I am not well received politically, but safety of the Indian Ocean and its countries is a responsibility befalling the ocean's countries," Nasheed added.

The former leader also claimed India among the oldest allies without any shifts in its alliance with the Maldives.

"There really is no scenario where we can live without our neighbors when it comes to India, which is often a bond of love and hate," he said.

"We need to learn to cooperate with India, and our prosperity is aligned with India's path to growth. We are linked with one another be it geographically, culturally, and historically."

Despite the tensions between India and the Maldives, the incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer recently claimed the relations have now returned to normalcy. He also announced President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu is planning a trip to India soon, and the discussions pertaining to it already held with the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar.

During his official visit to India last week, Zameer met with his Indian counterpart to discuss on multiple areas of mutual cooperation and benefit.

Nasheed has been a vocal advocate in favor strengthening diplomatic ties with India, and is known for his strong 'Anti-China' policies.