Don't want Maldives to be another flashpoint in ties with India: China

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Even as the Chinese foreign minister was meeting with the Maldivian envoy, China said it respected the principle of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, news agency IANS reported.

His office said the "friendly nations" would be provided "updates on the current situation".

Geng stressed that China's cooperation with the Maldives, as well as its aid, is focused on improving the country's economy and the livelihood of its people. Also, we have not seen any real action on the concerns stated by the global community and India.

China on Friday said that it is in touch with India to discuss a way to resolve the political turmoil gripping the Maldives while also underlining that Beijing doesn't want the issue to become another "flashpoint" in ties with New Delhi.

While former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, now in exile reached out India for military intervention, the current president, Yameen reportedly proposed that a special envoy visiting "friendly countries" first visit India.

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However, earlier this week, the Supreme Court revoked its order on the release of the opposition politicians.

"The Government of the Maldives was informed that the said dates were not suitable for India's leadership", it added.

Highlighting China's importance to Yameen, it was among the three "friendly nations" to which the Maldives said it was sending envoys to explain the current political situation.

Almost 1.4 million people visited the Indian Ocean island nation past year and nearly a third were from China. According to reports, a base is under serious consideration near Gwadar Port in Pakistan, and another along the east coast of Africa, notes David Brewster, a senior analyst with the National Security College at Australian National University.

In Delhi, the MEA responded by throwing the words back at Beijing, saying "We note that China has said that Maldives Government has the ability to protect the security of Chinese personnel and institutions in Maldives".

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But, while Beijing has significant economic interests in Maldives and strategic goals as well, the island nation is still well within India's geopolitical orbit.

Nasheed, who is in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, urged India to send an envoy backed by its military to the Maldives to free the political detainees and judges. The others are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

"What India can do is to build a coalition of like-minded countries to build pressure on Yameen and ensure that China is sidelined", he said.

But a second person familiar with the matter indicated that it was India's displeasure at Yameen's handling of the situation, coupled with scheduling problems, that had made New Delhi decline a visit by Asim.

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