Maldives likely to scrap observatory deal with China

Maldives likely to scrap observatory deal with China


Maldives is likely to scrap a 2017 deal with China to build an observatory in the Indian Ocean. The country's former president Abdulla Yameen, who was perceived as being close to Beijing, signed the agreement during his tenure.

India’s bilateral relations with Maldives improved after Yameen was voted out of power in last year's elections.

The Prime Minister  went to Male for his first foreign state visit after his re-election last month signifying the importance which India gives to the island nation. Narendra Modi also attended Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's swearing-in ceremony on November 17, 2018.

A top-ranking government official said the agreement signed by Yameen with China in 2017 is 'not on the table' anymore.

The agreement titled 'Protocol on Establishment of Joint Ocean Observation Station' allowed China to build an observatory at Makundhoo, at the westernmost part of northern Maldives, raising alarm bells.

New Delhi was concerned that the observatory will allow Beijing to monitor the important shipping routes in the Indian Ocean and sought an explanation from the Maldives regarding the same and it said that the Chinese are only looking to build a meteorological ocean observation centre.

The then Maldivian government did not make the agreement public, and China had to clarify that the observatory will not be used for military purposes.