China has speeded up its effort to find a home-grown solution to end the crisis in Maldives, to avoid tensions with India and ensure further improvement of post-Doklam ties with New Delhi.
The urgency of finding an early solution to the crisis was evident when Chinese foreign Minister Wang Yi, met Mohamed Saeed, the special envoy of the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Thursday.
During his interaction Mr. Wang stressed that China will not interfere in the internal affairs of Maldives.
“China will not interfere in the internal affairs of the Maldives. This is also an important principle enshrined by the UN charter,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang quoted Mr. Wang as saying.
Official sources told The Hindu that it was unlikely at this stage that China will embark on active mediation to ease the situation in Maldives.
The latest crisis in Maldives was triggered last week, when the Yameen administration imposed an emergency in defiance of Supreme Court ruling that quashed charges against the opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed, and called for the release of nine jailed parliamentarians.
The sources said that China’s activism in the Maldives was significantly driven by the “India factor”. “It (the Maldives development) should not become another problem (between China and India)” the sources said.
In order to rapidly resolve the crisis in Maldives, China was in touch with “all relevant parties including the opposition in Maldives, United States as well as India,” the sources observed.
The sources pointed out that with the Doklam border crisis behind them, ties between India were now advancing well, and the momentum of this improvement had to be nurtured.
A diplomatic source told The Hindu that the two visits in December to India — by foreign minister Wang and state councilor and politburo member Yang Jiechi — had built on the “fresh start” talks in September between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the BRICS summit in Xiamen.
In a timely gesture, the Chinese side has re-opened the gates of the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage for Indian travelers through Nathu La in Sikkim . The route was closed last year in the wake of the Doklam stand-off.
The next meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi is expected in June during the Qingdao summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries.
In response to a question on reports that Indian special forces were on standby to enter the island nation, Mr. Geng, highlighted that the “sovereignty” of Maldives was sacrosanct. “The international community should respect the sovereignty and will of Maldives and play a constructive role to promote the stability and development of Maldives, instead of doing the opposite.”
The spokesperson did not respond to the telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Mr. Modi on Maldives, saying that the situation in island-state was its “internal affair”. The two leaders had “expressed concern about the political crisis in the Maldives and the importance of respect for democratic institutions and rule of law,” the White House said in a statement.
During his interaction with Mr. Saeed, the Chinese foreign minister backed the Yameen administration by saying that the “Maldives government and people have the ability and wisdom to properly resolve the current issue and restore the normalcy in the country in accordance with law”.
Besides he advocated an inclusive domestic dialogue by pointing out that Beijing supported the “Maldives government to properly resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation with relevant parties and uphold the independence, sovereignty and the legitimate rights and interests of Maldives.”