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Maldives-China Relations: History and Recent visit

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  • Context (IE): Maldives-China relations will significantly impact the region’s geopolitics.

China-Maldives ties: History

  • Traditional ties of China-Maldives go back to the Tang dynasty (7th century AD) and the Silk Road.
  • Famous Ming dynasty Chinese navigator Zheng He also visited Maldives twice in 1412 and 1430.
  • Maldivian King Yusof also sent envoys to China on three occasions around 1417.
  • Contemporary diplomatic relations between China and Maldives were established only in 1972.
  • Economic and trade ties between the two countries began in 1981.
  • Future-oriented comprehensive relationship was signed in 2014 during Xi Jinping’s visit to Maldives.
  • Maldives was among the first South Asian countries to the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

Chinese commentaries on the recent visit

  • President of Maldives, Muizzu, was on a state visit to China to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Xi Jinping’s visit to Maldives.
  • For the first time, a Maldivian President has chosen China for his first overseas visit instead of India.
  • The “Comprehensive, friendly cooperative partnership” has been elevated to “Comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership” between both countries.
  • It is seen as a signal that the Maldives’ president wants to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the two countries.
  • India is blamed for having “undue concerns” and “unease” regarding Muizzu’s China visit.
  • Chinese media has alleged India’s “hegemonic neighbourhood first” policy in the sub-continent, with New Delhi “always suspicious” of Beijing’s “growing economic and friendly cooperation”.
  • They have dismissed accusations of Beijing indulging in a “zero-sum game”.

Role of the US

  • The strategic location of Maldives and deepening rivalry with China have prompted the engagement with Malé.
  • The US announced the opening of its embassy in October 2020.
  • Framework on the Defense and Security Relationship was signed 2020 between the USA and the Maldives 2020.

For details on India-Maldives relations, visit >India-Maldives Relations.

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