New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Maldives has become a big challenge to India at the moment as its current government is more inclined to conduct business with China. Nevertheless, the Indian government will continue to engage with the government of the archipelago nation, said the chief of the Indian Navy, Admiral Sunil Lanba.
"The constitution has been tweaked and some islands have been given to the Chinese for development. There is no news at the moment of any listening post in the Maldives. There is some development that is going on. We will have to wait and watch," Admiral Lanba said, addressing a think tank in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Maldives a challenge at the moment. Present government inclined to China, says Navy Chief Adm Sunil Lanba pic.twitter.com/7JMV7xdM9l— Prashant Rangnekar (@prashant85) May 23, 2018
India's relations with the Maldives weakened during a state of emergency imposed by the Abdulla Yameen government in February this year. During the crisis, the Maldives had turned down several Indian requests including an invitation to participate in a friendly joint military exercise named "Milan" (meaning "meeting" in Hindi) in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Milan is a biennial joint naval exercise of the Indian Ocean-RIM Association (IORA).
However, India has found some relief in the reinstatement of a joint patrolling mechanism in the economic zone.
"We [India] have an EEZ patrolling [exercise] that we regularly do with the Maldives. We just finished one [exercise] last week. The one [exercise] previously held had been called off by the Maldivian government, but that has been recommended. We continue to train their personnel. We just finished a special forces training camp. We will continue to work with the Maldivian government," Admiral Lanba added.
China has been making rapid strides into the Maldives since 2012 when a contract awarded to India's GMR Infrastructure Limited for the development of the Male International airport was canceled and passed on to the Beijing Urban Construction Group. Beijing now has leases on 17 of the 1,200 islands that constitute the Maldives, according to former President Mohamed Nasheed.