Maldives is a Test Case for India’s Strategic Economic Quest, and for Trump’s Indo-Pacific Idea
Between India, Japan, the United States and EU, it should not be difficult to provide an economic counterweight to China in the strategically important Maldives.
Seven years ago, I strolled around Male contemplating the Chinese flags that festooned the tiny, densely populated Maldivian capital, pausing to take a few snaps of the cluster around the Indian embassy. The guest of honor was Wu Bangguo, the second-ranked member of the politburo standing committee, and by far the highest-level Chinese visitor the islands had received. China was still a peripheral presence, but it was visibly growing.
Two years earlier, I had been sitting in the president’s office, chatting with his advisors about the proposals for a Chinese-financed housing complex on Hulhumalé, a reclaimed island connected by a strip of land to the international airport. EXIM bank was set to provide a $74 million loan for a thousand-unit project. For China, it was a pittance. For the Maldives, it was nearly 10 percent of its annual budget.