Maldivian president in India for investment discussions as part of pivot away from China

Maldivian president in India for investment discussions as part of pivot away from China

Recently elected Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will travel to India today, where he will discuss ways to further the

Maldivian president-elect Mohamed Solih arrives at an event with supporters in Male

Photo: Reuters/Ashwa Faheem

Recently elected Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will travel to India today, where he will discuss ways to further the countries’ economic and strategic cooperation.

Mr Solih ousted incumbent Abdulla Yameen this September. Despite the country having a long history of fraudulent elections, the Election Commission confirmed no outside interference, marking a successful and peaceful transition of power. With the incoming president comes his “India First” policy, a substantial change from Mr Yameen’s pro-China rhetoric.

Thus, Mr Solih will look for Indian economic assistance today to help reduce his country’s current dependence on Chinese investment—the top three infrastructure projects worth a combined $1.5 billion. Potential areas of cooperation include amending visa laws to make travelling between the countries easier, as well as an agreement which would allow for private investment in the Maldives by Indian businesses.

However, the small island nation now owes $1.3 billion, or more than a quarter of its GDP, to Beijing. Though Mr Solih will likely try restructuring this debt, China continues to provide massive infrastructure funding—something India is unable to provide. In the long-term, however, continued anti-Beijing rhetoric may undermine Chinese ambitions to use the country to help contain India.

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