China's 'Maldives Meddling' in Focus at India’s Next Meeting With Quad Partners

AFP
In a statement issued late on Thursday night, the Maldivian foreign ministry said the sentencing of former President Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed were “as per national laws, regulations and procedures governing the criminal justice system in the Maldives”.

Washington: The US has said that the Maldives issue will be discussed by the Quad countries — which includes, India, Japan, Australia and the US — in its next meeting and it is closely monitoring the Chinese actions in the Indo-Pacific region.

Quad is an informal grouping of the four countries. At the initiative of Japan, the four countries had their first meeting at the director-level last year in Manila. Officials of the four countries at the same level are expected to meet soon, a senior US administration official told a group of reporters, noting that the issue of Maldives would be discussed.

"We (Quad) are looking forward to doing a follow-up meeting. The current situation in the Maldives certainly would be something that would be discussed by the Quad," the official said in response to a question.

Acknowledging that there hasn't been a joint statement or anything of that nature by the Quad on Maldives, the official said the situation in the island nation would be something that would be an important area of discussion perhaps in the next meeting of Quad.

A day earlier, Ahmed Naseem, former foreign minister of Maldives and an opposition leader, said that China is meddling in the internal affairs of his country and has indulged itself in a massive land grabbing endeavor, which “if left unchecked” would pose a “major strategic threat” to both India and the US, which has a major stake in the Indian Ocean.

"More specifically, China appears to be keen on building a base in the Maldives, which one day may house warships and submarines," Naseem alleged. The Chinese interference in Maldives, he said, affects not just his country, but also the security and stability of the entire Indian Ocean region.

"In particular, China's actions are undermining India's security concerns. What is happening in the Maldives is not just about democracy. It's about peace, stability, and security of the entire neighbourhood," he said.

Naseem also alleged that President Yameen’s “criminal activities” undermine the US-led, rule-based international system.