China to gain most from GMR’s Male woes
External affairs ministry officials told FE on condition of anonymity that China was keen to get a foothold in the Male airport asset as a base in the Maldives would put the dragon state in control of the oil routes in the region and give it greater dominance over sea lanes.
More than 80% of international trade to and from Asia passes through Maldivian territory. And while India and the Maldives have been enjoying strong relations, the nation is of strategic interest to China.
“China’s foremost interest in the Maldives is to protect its increasingly important supplies of energy that need to transit the Indian Ocean,” said former Major General Dipankar Banerjee, a mentor of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
China is making inroads in the Maldives by building infrastructure projects and supporting the tourism industry. For Maldivian traders too, China is becoming an import business destination. India’s increasing involvement and influence among smaller island states mirrors China’s expansion in the region. Given the economic links between India and China, however, a direct confrontation is unlikely.
Due to its location in the Indian Ocean alongside major shipping lanes, the Maldives is of strategic interest for both China and India. China has recently opened an embassy in Male, which symbolises its increasing interest