Former Maldives President accuses China for colonising islets
- Exiled Maldives Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed accused China of seizing land in the politically-troubled Indian Ocean archipelago and undermining its sovereignty.
- Chinese interests had leased at least 16 islets among the 1,192 scattered coral islands and were building ports and other infrastructure there.
- The increased Chinese presence could threaten the Muslim-majority nation of 3,40,000 and the wider Indian Ocean region.
- “This is colonialism and we must not allow it. We want other countries [in the region] to join us and speak the same language [against Chinese expansion]. We are not against any country, not against direct foreign investment, but we are against relinquishing our sovereignty.” He said.
- Mr. Nasheed said 80% of the Maldives’ foreign debt was owed to China and the nation could end up handing over more land and infrastructure as it may not be able to repay the loans.
- He was referring to Sri Lanka’s experience under former President Mahinda Rajapakse who borrowed heavily from China. The new government had to sell projects to repay debts.