Scrapping reports of Chinese frigates in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, the Defence Ministry clarified that the Chinese naval movement during this period was at least 2,500 nautical miles (around 5,000 km) away from the Maldives. Officials in the Ministry confirmed to The Indian Express that no movement of Chinese warships was detected near the Maldives. Although there was no official statement released by the Ministry on the development, the officials speculated the Chinese deployment to be a part of an ‘anti-piracy exercise’, as per the report.
Earlier, Reuters, citing a Chinese news portal, had reported that 11 Chinese warships sailed into the East Indian Ocean in February at a time when the Maldives is facing a national crisis resulting in a state of emergency due to the President-judiciary tussle. It should also be noted here that the report did not explain the link between the Chinese deployment to the ongoing crisis in the Maldives. Notably, the Chinese side hasn’t yet commented on the alleged development.
As per The Indian Express report, at present, the Indian Navy has two detachments of Advanced Light Helicopters (SAR variant) and the Indian Coast Guard has a Dornier aircraft positioned in the Maldives. It further claims that the Indian Navy is currently undertaking a month-long exercise ‘Pashchim Lehar’ in the Arabian Sea. The military exercise is reportedly seeing the participation of more than 40 warships.
Maldives was pushed into a crisis after President Abdulla Yameen imposed a national emergency on February 5 for a period of 15 days to quash a Supreme Court judgement that scrapped the convictions against nine opposition leaders which would have resulted in the collapse of the incumbent government. The emergency was further extended by 30 days.