India-Maldives ties over years
- Maldives is an island nation located south of India's Lakshadweep islands in the Indian ocean.
- Maldives and India established diplomatic relations after the independence of Maldives from the British in 1966.
- They developed close economic, strategic, military and cultural relations ever since.
- Both are founding members of SAARC, the South Asian Economic Union and signatories to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement.
Nasheed's arrest affects India's relations with Maldives
- The recent issue involving arrest of former Maldives president Mohammed Nasheed in February 2015, on charges of terror, changed the dynamic between India and Maldives.
- Though India expressed concerns over 'manhandling' of Nasheed, a more hands-on response was expected.
- China declined to react and said that it was an internal affair of Maldives and the government was capable to deal with its 'domestic' issue.
China's increasing proximity to Maldives
- In Sep 2014, Maldives awarded the airport contract it terminated (in 2012) with India's GMR, to Chinese firm during China's president Xi Jinping's trip to the country.
- Further, Maldives recently joined China's two major strategic projects - the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- India is wary of the BRI project which proposes to pass through Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
BRI - China's strategic tool
Belt and Road Initiative, a brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping to firm-up China's strategic influence, consists of two components - the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" (SREB) and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR).
Constitution now authorizes foreign ownership of land
22 Jul 2015
- The Maldives parliament - Majlis amended the constitution to authorize foreign ownership of land or freeholds in the country, with 70 out of the Majlis's 85 members voting in favor.
- The amendments will allow foreigners who invest more than US$1 billion to purchase land within the project site.
- The Constitution previously allowed only leasing of the land for up to 99 years.
Opposition to the legislation
22 Jul 2015
- Some of the members who opposed the move to amend the Constitution expressed concern over possible Chinese military expansion in Maldives.
- There was also concern over the lack of time to review the amendments since they were passed just after a day after their introduction in the Parliament.
- They were fearful of Maldives being dragged into a tug of war between India and China.
Maldives' new legislation weighs in favor of China
25 Jul 2015
- The Maldivian constitutional amendment is being seen as an attempt to build closer economic and strategic ties with China.
- The new law welcoming China to increase its influence over Male, poses a strategic challenge for India.
- India's influence on this island nation appears to be waning especially after PM Modi gave Maldives a miss on his tour of the Indian ocean countries.
Former president Mohamed Nasheed's arrest Maldives' internal affair: China - timesofindia-economictimes