January 24, 2024
NEW DELHI – In a development that is bound to raise the hackles of the Indian establishment, the Maldives on Wednesday confirmed that it has permitted a Chinese ship to make a port call in Male, but claimed that the vessel would not be conducting any research while in the Maldivian waters.
”Concerning the media reports regarding the port call of the Chinese Research Vessel XIANG YANG HONG 3 at Male’, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to inform that a diplomatic request was made by the Government of China to the Government of Maldives, for the necessary clearances to make a port call, for rotation of personnel and replenishment. The vessel would not be conducting any research while in the Maldivian waters,” a statement from the Maldivian Foreign Ministry said.
The Chinese vessel is expected to arrive in Male in early February.
The statement said the Maldives has always been a welcoming destination for vessels of friendly countries, and continues to host both civilian and military vessels making port calls for peaceful purposes. ”Such port calls not only enhance bilateral ties between the Maldives and its partner countries, but also demonstrate the centuries old tradition of the Maldivian people welcoming vessels from friendly countries,” it added.
The statement said the Maldives continues to uphold international best practices, and relevant international maritime law on all such cases.
The development comes at a time when ties between India and the Maldives are far from normal with Maldives pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu asking India to withdraw its nearly 90 troops from the island by March 15.
Mr Muizzu was recently in Beijing where he met Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese leaders and discussed security and other major issues.
India has invariably objected to Chinese vessels docking at ports in its neighbourhood.