Posts Tagged ‘China’

Chinese loans with high interest will burden Filipinos — Hasn’t China Already Gotten What They Want From The Philippines?

February 22, 2018
Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino said that the government should consider the nation’s first before friendly relations with other nations, after it emerged that Manila would secure Chinese loans which charged interest rates of between two to three percent. File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino said on Thursday that the Philippine government should not sacrifice the welfare of the nation at the altar of “friendship” with China, after it emerged that Chinese loans to Manila were loaded with high interest rates.

According to Aquino, he will file a resolution urging the Congressional Oversight Committee on the Official Development Assistance to conduct a hearing on government dealings with China and other countries to ensure transparency and guarantee the best deal for the country.

“The government owes it to the people to secure the best agreement, and not pursue a ‘friendly deal’ that will later burden the Filipino people,” Aquino said.

Aquino’s pronouncement came after Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia admitted that the Philippine government would secure Chinese loans for its infrastructure projects despite being charged with an interest rate of between two to three percent.

Pernia said that Japan meanwhile charged between 0.25 to 0.75 percent for its interest rate.

Aquino clarified that it was not about choosing between China and Japan but about getting the best option for Filipinos. The opposition lawmaker reminded the government that it would be Filipinos who would bear the brunt of these loans through taxes.

“The government should not sacrifice the welfare of the nation for the sake of ‘friendship,’” Aquino said.

The Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte has forged closer relationship with China, with which it has simmering territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

The disputes in the seas through which $5 trillion worth of trade annually passed led to frosty relations under Duterte’s predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III.

A standoff at the Scarborough Shoal just off the western seaboard of Luzon led Aquino’s government to bring China to a United Nations-backed tribunal to clarify their respective claims to the region.

According to Aquino, the government should consider what China is asking for in exchange for friendly relations considering the interest rates it charges.

“This is what the government should consider,” he said.

“We have resolved to file a resolution to ensure transparency in all government dealings with China or any other country and ensure that our people are getting the best deal,” he said.

According to Pernia, the Philippines could not source all its loans from Japan as it also had to give financial support to other countries.

Even if China charges higher interest rates than Japan, these are still better than commercial loans, according to the socioeconomic secretary.

He also said that Japan was slower to process projects despite the good relationship between Manila and Tokyo.

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Peace and Freedom Note: One could make the case that The Philippines is no longer of any strategic value to China. China has built seven military bases in the South China Sea near the Philippines and is in position to do and take what it wants from the sea….

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We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)



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China has long had its eye on James Shoal and may move toward the island unless Malaysia or Indonesia protest…


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


Amnesty International says Rohingya crisis consequence of society ‘encouraged to hate’ — Accused President Donald Trump of “poisonous” rhetoric

February 22, 2018


LONDON (Reuters) – The crisis in Myanmar and reported massacres of Rohingya Muslims are the consequence of a society encouraged to hate and a lack of global leadership on human rights, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

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 Photo: People hold a banner with picture of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi

The human rights group said in its annual report covering 159 countries that “hate-filled rhetoric” by leaders was normalizing discrimination against minorities.

“We saw the ultimate consequence of a society encouraged to hate, scapegoat and fear minorities laid bare in the horrific military campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people in Myanmar,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty.

Last week, the United States urged the U.N Security Council to hold Myanmar’s military accountable for what it said was the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.

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A Rohingya woman breaks down after a fight during food distribution at Kutupalong refugee camp

Nearly 690,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine and taken refuge in neighboring Bangladesh since the Myanmar military launched a crackdown on insurgents at the end of August, according to the U.N..

More than 6,500 Rohingya are currently trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Amnesty said the international community had failed to respond robustly to “crimes against humanity and war crimes from Myanmar to Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen”.

Rohingya refugees walk at Jamtoli camp in the morning in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Jan. 22, 2018.

Rohingya refugees walk at Jamtoli camp in the morning in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Jan. 22, 2018.

Credit: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

It said that leaders in countries such as the United States, Russia and China were not standing up for civil liberties and instead were “callously undermining the rights of millions”.

Amnesty said President Donald Trump had taken backward steps on human rights that were setting a dangerous precedent. Shetty described his move to ban people from several Muslim-majority countries in January last year as “transparently hateful”.

Last year’s report accused Trump of “poisonous” rhetoric.

Free speech will be a key issue for those concerned about human rights this year, the report said.

Amnesty said its staff were arrested at an unprecedented rate in Turkey in 2017, which along with Egypt and China was also among the biggest jailors of journalists.

Two Reuters reporters in Myanmar were arrested while investigating the killing of Rohingya Muslims. Court proceedings are ongoing.

“In 2018, we cannot take for granted that we will be free to gather together in protest or to criticize our governments. In fact, speaking out is becoming more dangerous,” Shetty said.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Andrew Roche

China’s goal was to ‘split’ India and Bhutan over Doklam, says ex-NSA Shivshankar Menon

February 22, 2018
PTI | Updated: Feb 21, 2018, 22:07 IST


  • China wanted to “show the Bhutanese that India could not defend their security and also to arouse Bhutanese opinion (on it). I am glad we chose to react the way we did: Shivshankar Menon
  • Menon, who was NSA between 2010 and 2014 in the previous UPA rule, also said there was a need for an integrated approach in managing the country’s borders

Fformer National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon (File photo)Fformer National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon (File photo)

NEW DELHI: China’s political goal was to “split” India and Bhutan over the Doklam standoff, former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said on Wednesday while appreciating the way the government handled the issue.

Menon, who was NSA between 2010 and 2014 in the previous UPA rule, also said there was a need for an integrated approach in managing the country’s borders.

“One reason why we saw that activity in Doklam last year was not because they (China) had a clear military option or superiority but they had the political goal of splitting us from the Bhutanese,” he said at a conference here.

India and Bhutan have close ties and New Delhi has been providing military support to the country.

He said China wanted to “show the Bhutanese that India could not defend their security and also to arouse Bhutanese opinion (on it). I am glad we chose to react the way we did.”

Menon had also served as India’s foreign secretary from October 2006 to August 2009.

Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed tri-junction by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face-off ended on August 28.


Delving into various aspects of border management, Menon said the armed forces must take the people of the border areas of the north-eastern states into confidence on such issues.

As a close friend and neighbour, Bhutan enjoys diplomatic and military support from India.

The conference on ‘Bridging gaps and securing borders’ in the northeast was attended by the top brass of the defence forces including Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.


China boosts air defences in western region as Indian border row simmers

February 22, 2018

Advanced fighter jets sent for high-altitude drill a month after satellite images showed both China and India building up airbases near Doklam plateau

By Kinling Lo
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 8:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 9:45pm

China’s air force is trying to boost its capability at high altitudes over its far western airbases amid simmering tensions with India, sending more advanced fighter jets to the area.

Months after a protracted stand-off on the Doklam plateau ended, both nations are still building up their militaries along the border – which observers say is preparation for further confrontation.

On Tuesday last week, J-10 and J-11 fighter jets joined a combat training exercise in western China, according to an article and photos on the People’s Liberation Army website.

The drill was held a month after satellite images showed a Chinese build-up in air power at two bases near the border – including fighter aircraft and helicopters – while the Indian air force had also deployed more Su-30 MKI warplanes to two airbases near Doklam since the middle of last year.

China and India were embroiled in a 72-day military face-off in the disputed Himalayan border area last summer, eventually agreeing to an “expeditious disengagement” of troops in late August. But reports since then have suggested that China has continued building roads at the border – shared with India and Bhutan – and military personnel from both sides are still stationed there.

 A J-11 fighter jet deploys a parachute to slow down after a drill in western China. Photo:

Song Zhongping, a former instructor with the PLA’s Second Artillery Corps, said China’s deployment of J-10s and J-11s was a sign it is trying to boost its defences in the area to counter any threat from India.

J-11s have a range of 1,500km, which can be extended with additional fuel tanks, while J-10 jet fighters have a range of 1,850km.

“The upgrade in the Western Theatre Command is urgent because in China’s western region, relations with India have been strained due to the border tensions, with no resolution in sight,” Song said.

“India is gearing up already, so it’s necessary for China to prepare for a possible military confrontation,” he said. “And in these mountainous areas, superiority in the air is of utmost importance.”

The PLA’s western zone covers Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Chongqing.

Adam Ni, a military researcher from the Australian National University, said China’s western airbases were located in high altitudes with low air density, making it a difficult environment for the air force to operate in.

“The new deployment of the jets is part of a concerted effort to improve Chinese air power, which is at initial disadvantage against India due to the natural landscape,” he said. “However, this disadvantage is more than offset by the quantitative and qualitative advantages that China’s air force can call upon in a prolonged conflict.”

Ni added that China was trying to build on these advantages by developing and deploying advanced jets and improving its logistics, airbases and technology.

 China is trying to strengthen its air defences in the difficult high-altitude western border region. Photo: AFP

Extreme weather poses the greatest challenge at high altitudes, according to Song, because fuel efficiency is lower and the aircraft must be able to withstand tougher conditions.

He said using more advanced aircraft was only one aspect of the air force’s approach to overcoming altitude problems.

“China also needs to constantly train pilots and prepare them for high altitudes, and improve cooperation between the support team on the ground and pilots to make sure performance isn’t affected [in the difficult conditions],” he said.

But Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said the J-10 and J-11 fighter jets were less advanced than its J-20 stealth fighters and the Su-35s that were recently sent on combat patrol over the South China Sea – suggesting Beijing’s priority was still its rivalry with Washington.

“Sending these jets to different theatre commands shows that the major focus of China’s military is still the east, with the United States being the main rival. The threat from India comes second in China’s military priority,” he said. “But of course China made sure the new jets it deployed were better than India’s.”

After Maldives Ignores Advice On Emergency, India Sends Sharp Message

February 22, 2018

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India urging him to roll back the emergency provisions imposed early February; the last one made just a few hours before he announced the 30-day extension.


After Maldives Ignores Advice On Emergency, India Sends Sharp Message

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen had initially imposed the emergency on February 5



  1. India said it was “deeply dismayed” with Maldives’ extension of emergency
  2. India stressed extension would delay restoration of democracy in Maldives
  3. Maldives president Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen’s decision to extend Emergency for 30 more days has provoked a sharp response from New Delhi that had been trying to persuade the tiny island nation to restore democracy. The Foreign Ministry said India was “deeply dismayed” by the development and underscored that the manner in which the Emergency had been extended was “in contravention” of its Constitution.

President Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India urging him to roll back the emergency provisions imposed early February; the last one made just a few hours before he announced the 30-day extension.

New Delhi stressed that the extension of emergency would lead to delay in the resumption of the political process and the continuing suspension of the functioning of democratic institutions including the judiciary.

“We are deeply dismayed that the government of Maldives has extended the State of Emergency for a further 30 days. The manner in which the extension of the State of Emergency was approved by the Majlis in contravention of the Constitution of Maldives is also a matter of concern,” India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Under Maldives Constitution, matters that require compliance by citizens can only be passed if more than half of its total members are present in the House.

Because the opposition parties refused to consider extending Emergency, President Yameen was not able to fulfil this basic requirement. He has attempted to work around the provision by claiming that the state of Emergency would not apply to law-abiding citizens but only “those alleged to have carried out illegal activities”.

According to a Reuters report, Maldives prosecutor general Aishath Bisham had told police that the extended state of emergency was unconstitutional. There has, however, been no word from the police on this communication. President Yameen had earlier removed two police chiefs who had refused to follow his directions.

President Yameen had initially imposed the emergency on February 5 for 15 days to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed convictions against nine opposition leaders and ordered his government to free those held in prison. Among them was exiled ex-president Mohamed Nasheed. The court had also reinstated 12 members unseated from the parliament last July for floor-crossing.

President Yameen’s soldiers had responded by storming the Supreme Court and charging the country’s two senior judges and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom with bribery.

Since then, the remaining judges of the top court have, one by one, surrendered their power to decide cases individuals and struck down provisions of the 1 February Supreme Court verdict that had triggered the crisis for President Yameen.

The court has also restored convictions against the nine opposition leaders, ruled that there was nothing wrong in the Emergency and gone on to again cancel the membership of the 12 members who crossed from the ruling party to the opposition.


Trump puts America back in Asia

February 22, 2018


By Thitinan Pongsudhirak

Populism is eroding human rights across the world, says Amnesty International

February 22, 2018

The human rights watchdog has published its annual report, urging more human rights protections. Amnesty has warned that “hate-filled rhetoric” from US President Donald Trump and others has eroded human rights globally.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Thursday published its annual report, warning of increased violations across the globe.

Amnesty International’s David Griffiths told DW that they made a conscious choice to release the report in Washington, given “how President (Donald) Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric has translated into reality.”

“There are complex links between human rights abuses and social inequality,” Griffiths added. “But one of the ways we see them connected is how many leaders have exploited people’s fears about economic fragility in order to promote hatred and fear.”

Read more: Is Europe doing enough to protect human rights?

But the United States isn’t the only place to witness a dangerous erosion of human rights due to populist leaders. Across the globe, Amnesty said, political leaders have used divisive rhetoric to shore up support for their causes, including in Turkey, Hungary and Myanmar.

Defenders targeted

The report said that at least 312 human rights activists were killed in 2017 because of their work. Journalists and media workers are increasingly being targeted by state actors, it noted.

Griffiths said the number of human rights defenders killed in 2017 marked an “increase on the previous year.”

Read more: EU launches initiative to ban trade of torture products

“But it is not just killing; it is also intimidation and smears and harassment, making life very difficult for those who choose to stand up for human rights,” he said. “And those threats are coming from lots of different places, whether it is governments or armed groups or companies or others.”

70 years since Universal Declaration

The report called on Germany to do more at the international level to defend human rights, especially for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told DW that the human rights situation is “getting alarmingly worse in many places” across the globe.

“It seems people are forgetting it now, and that’s very worrying because then you risk a repeat of many of the awful things that have happened in not-so-distant history,” Colville said.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, backed by 48 of the 58 UN member states in 1948, was created in response to the atrocities committed during World War II.

“The anniversary this year is a critical opportunity to try and reclaim those values that are articulated so beautifully in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the idea of the fundamental dignity and equality of every member of the human family,” Griffiths said.

 Includes Video:
Respect for human rights seems to be in decline almost everywhere and for many, many reasons…..
A few examples from the last 24 hours are linked below.

China Has Bought Brunei’s Silence in South China Sea Dispute

February 22, 2018
China’s takeover of the strategic South China Sea region is ‘steering the world toward war.’

In discussions about the South China Sea dispute, we often hear about China claiming nearly the entire resource-rich, strategic region. And we also often hear about rival claimants—nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines—who dispute China’s claims. International law says these smaller nations rightfully own the portions of the sea along their coasts, so they often cry foul of Beijing’s claims to their territory.

But there is one country with claims to part of the South China Sea that we no longer hear from in this context: Brunei.

Brunei lies on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo at the southern end of the South China Sea. Brunei can lawfully claim 200 nautical miles of the sea off its coast as its Exclusive Economic Zone (eez).

In previous decades, Brunei was clear about asserting its claims in the South China Sea. In the 1990s, its leadership launched a public objection after China had conducted unauthorized research off Brunei’s coasts. But more recently, Brunei has grown virtually silent about its claims.

In sharp contrast to the vocal governments in Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and elsewhere, Brunei has not openly contested China’s illegal claims that infringe on its eez.

Evidence indicates that Brunei’s reticence in this area is largely due to receiving billions of dollars in investments from China. “Total consolidated Chinese investment in Brunei is now estimated at around $6 billion and scheduled to rise,” the Asia Times recently reported.

For a nation as small as Brunei, this is a vast amount of money. And it is coming at a time when Brunei’s main economic lifeline, oil reserves, are dwindling.

Chinese investment in Brunei has helped build local infrastructure and a major oil refinery. China is also helping Brunei expand its manufacturing and improve its connectivity. China now also holds joint control of Brunei’s largest container terminal.

With these investments, China has essentially bought Brunei’s silence in the South China Sea dispute. Its government has even gone so far as to censor its own media from criticizing China.

Brunei is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean), an organization established largely to unify smaller nations in the region to stand up to China’s influence. China’s sway over Brunei erodes asean unity and complicates the ability of other member nations to challenge Beijing.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that China’s takeover of the strategic South China Sea is “steering the world toward war.” In the July 2016 Trumpet issue, he wrote:

Since Japan’s defeat in World War ii, America has protected this vital trade route and brought peace to this part of the world. Now the American military is retreating, and other great powers are coming in to fill the vacuum. … China is intimidating the nations of Southeast Asia into submission to its will. It is forcing these countries to do what it wants. Everything is headed in the direction of war.

Mr. Flurry’s understanding of the South China Sea dynamic is based on Bible prophecy.

In Deuteronomy 28:52, God warns the nations of Israel that if they reject Him, He will hand control over the world’s strategic sea gates to their enemies:

And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

Mr. Flurry explained that this warning in Deuteronomy is not for ancient peoples. “It is a prophecy for the modern-day descendants of Israel,” he wrote. “Two nations in particular represent Israel in this end time: America and Britain. … This prophecy and several others show that He will send foreign enemies to punish America and Britain!”

The fact that China has now essentially bought Brunei’s silence and compliance in the South China Sea, allowing Beijing’s ongoing takeover of the whole region, shows that the era of America ensuring peace to this part of the world is rapidly ending. It shows that this prophecy is now in the process of being fulfilled.

But Mr. Flurry made plain that this approaching war is closely linked to the best imaginable news. “All this prophesied destruction is what it will take for God to reach this world!” he wrote in that article. “After this, people will be ashamed—and they will get to know God! Ezekiel repeatedly talked about that inspiring conclusion (e.g. Ezekiel 6:7; 7:4; 11:10; 12:20; 13:9; 23:48-49; etc). Yes, there is a lot of bad news when you consider what it takes to get people to the point of knowing God. But ultimately, the outcome is spectacularly good news!”

To understand the details of these prophecies, and the profound hope that is tied to them, please request a free copy of Mr. Flurry’s book Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.


We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)



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China has long had its eye on James Shoal and may move toward the island unless Malaysia or Indonesia protest…


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

China Humiliates Another Western Company — Will Western companies ever stop Kowtowing toward Beijing?

February 21, 2018

Beijing increasingly demands corporate self-censorship.

 Image result for chinese dragon, new year, photos

Mercedes-Benz, the luxury unit of Daimler AG , recently learned the price of crossing Beijing. Earlier this month the German car maker was attacked by state media after posting an anodyne Dalai Lama quote on Instagram. The company quickly and abjectly apologized to the Chinese government. It then went further, promising “no support, assistance, aid or help to anyone who intentionally subverts or attempts to subvert China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

This public humiliation has prompted many companies to ask: How much is it worth to stay in China’s markets?

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Gone are the days when China bided its time, as counseled by Deng Xiaoping. In exchange for continued access to Chinese markets, Beijing increasingly expects Western companies to engage in self-censorship, accept government control over information, and even punish their own workers for offending China.

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Few companies have been willing to stand up for themselves when singled out. In January the American hotel giant Marriott caved in to pressure and temporarily shut down its websites in China. Its offense? An online questionnaire listed Tibet, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as independent countries. After changing the website, the company’s CEO publicly stated that Marriott “respects and supports Chinese sovereignty and its territorial integrity.” Delta Air Lines , Qantas, Zara and Audi are also fellow travelers in China’s geopolitical strategy.

The city skyline at sunset in Beijing, May 24, 2017.
The city skyline at sunset in Beijing, May 24, 2017.PHOTO: © GREGOR FISCHER/DPAZUMA PRESS

Perhaps most concerning, China has taken a particular interest in changing the fundamental way Western technology companies function.Facebook , banned in China since 2009, has worked on a “targeted censorship” tool during its bid to re-enter the country. Apple agreed to a partnership with a Chinese internet service company, effectively sharing user data with the government. There is no way either company would accept such demands from the U.S. government.

Some Western corporate leaders argue that running away from China makes no sense. “We believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said last year. But engagement is a two-way street, and Beijing has shown no willingness to accommodate. Instead it has become more intrusive.

China’s behavior makes it necessary for Western companies to ask whether the cost of doing business can be too high. Does the profit motive override any responsibility to defend the values of the societies from which they emerged? If only to draw the line against further demands, companies should be reflexively opposed to Beijing’s overreach. Otherwise they should expect the cost of doing business in China to continue to rise.

Mr. Auslin is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author of “The End of the Asian Century” (Yale, 2017).

Appeared in the February 21, 2018, print edition.

Trouble in paradise: Maldives crisis locks tug of war between China, India

February 21, 2018

Russia Today (RT)

This may be Propaganda…. Always consider the source….

Male, the capital of the Maldives
Credit Reuters
The Maldives is a tiny paradise nation, with a population of 400,000 and 10 times more sea than land. It’s also a focus in the rivalry between China and India, whose total populations comprise a third of all people in the world.
The Maldives has been divided by a political crisis, with each of the two sides calling on one of their big neighbors for help. Both India and China have a vested strategic interest in the archipelago.

Early in February, the Maldives Supreme Court dropped charges against opposition leader and pro-Indian former President Mohammed Nasheed, and ordered that 12 opposition parliamentarians who had been stripped of their seats be reinstated. The current president, pro-Chinese Abdulla Yameen, overruled the court’s decision and declared a state of emergency. Two Supreme Court judges and another former pro-Indian president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, were arrested on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

In the chaos that ensued, both Yameen and Nasheed appealed to regional powerhouses for their support. Yameen sent envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in a bid to strengthen his position. Nasheed, who is currently outside the Maldives, took to Twitter to request a military-backed envoy from India and financial steps from the US.

Mohamed Nasheed

On behalf of Maldivian people we humbly request:
1. India to send envoy, backed by its military, to release judges & pol. detainees inc. Prez. Gayoom. We request a physical presence.
2. The US to stop all financial transactions of Maldives regime leaders going through US banks.

Powers from farther away also took interest in the turmoil. A delegation from the EU was flown to the archipelago and held a meeting with the opposition, but was denied talks with the ruling government, which it accused of cracking down on democracy.

India has so far been reserved in its reactions. Statements from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top officials boil down to calls for “respect for democratic institutions” and “playing a constructive role in the Maldives.” A number of Indian media outlets, however, ran opinion pieces calling for action against Chinese influence in New Delhi’s“backyard”.

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Maldivian Police officers push back protesting opposition supporters near the main opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) headquarters. © Stringer

Maldives slams calls for Indian military intervention

China appears poised for action, closely monitoring any potential Indian move. An editorial in the state-run Global Times, effectively a mouthpiece for Beijing, warns against any military power play in the archipelago.

“India should exercise restraint,” it reads. “China will not interfere in the internal affairs of the Maldives, but that does not mean that Beijing will sit idly by as New Delhi breaks the principle. If India one-sidedly sends troops to the Maldives, China will take action to stop New Delhi.”

A report followed, saying China had dispatched a small fleet to the East Indian Ocean this month. It was quickly picked up by several media outlets, and some didn’t wait for confirmation before ruling that China was “muscling out” regional competition. There’s been no official statement from Beijing, but soon unnamed Indian sources refuted the rumor: apparently, there five ships, not 11 as reported initially, they were on a routine patrol mission and never came close to the Maldives, moving near Indonesia, thousands of miles to the east.

What puts the tiny atoll paradise at the center of a generations-long superpower rivalry, how many more nations will it pull in, and what are the chances it will end in bloodshed?

What has India worried is the rapid advance of Chinese influence in the Maldives in the past decade, says Sreeram Chaulia, professor and dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs of O.P. Jindal Global University. This is evidenced by president Yameen’s support of the Belt and Road initiative, a net of Chinese trade routes aiming to span most of the Eurasian continent by both sea and land.

Apart from maritime trade deals, President Yameen has permitted Chinese warships to dock in the Maldives. This does not sit well with India, which has always seen these waters as its own area of influence, professor Chaulia says.

Chinese expansion in terms of economic agreements, for example, the ‘One Belt One Road,’ in terms of its navy being able to send submarines and battleships all the way across the Indian Ocean and up to the Gulf of Aden. These moves have been perceived as competition with India…

Prof. Sreeram Chaulia, analyst

The situation slipping into actual military action, though, is unlikely “at the current juncture,” the professor believes. Things can still escalate if the political crisis deepens.

“If the incumbent president, Abdullah Yameen, tries to rig the elections that are due this year, or delay the elections, which could prolong the crisis, then you can expect a stronger reaction from India,” professor Chaulia told RT.

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Opposition supporters protest the government’s delay in releasing jailed leaders in Male, Maldives, on February 4, 2018. © Reuters

China will ‘take action’ if India sends troops to crisis-hit Maldives – state media

India has a history of taking military action in the Maldives to preserve a ruler that favors ties with New Delhi. In 1988, its troops came to the rescue of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, one of the two recently arrested ex-presidents, as he was facing a coup. This time, the situation is too complicated for that kind of incursion.

“The Maldives is a divided society,” professor Chaulia explained. “Unfortunately, it is a bit like the Syria war between two factions that have roughly equal support. Half of the population of the Maldives still support the incumbent president. India views it as an internal social crisis and does not believe that it can use its military to solve the problem because military intervention cannot rectify domestic discord and social polarization.”

It would take an “extraordinary” slip on part of the Maldives’ president for India to intervene militarily, believes Aleksey Kupriyanov, senior research fellow at Institute of World Economy and International Relations.

If President Abdulla Yameen were to suddenly agree to host a Chinese military base, or, say, disperse the parliament, or declare himself a dictator, then of course, the Indians will deploy troops.

Aleksey Kupriyanov, analyst

Should all sides play it cool, though, the crisis should be deescalated.

“Neither China nor India want it,” Kupriyanov said. “The two countries are in a period of détente… As you know India and China have a territorial dispute, where China claims a part of Indian territory and India says Beijing has occupied it,” the academic added, referring to the tensions over Doklam, a territory that is claimed by both China as well as India’s ally Bhutan. On August 28, India and China announced that they had withdrawn all their troops from the area.

Should push come to shove, the Maldives’ tiny military wouldn’t last a few days against India. “The Maldives’ army is not combat-worthy, compared to the Indians. Should India deploy its troops, the matter would be decided within several days, or even one day. Most [Maldivians] would lay down arms and the rest would switch over to the Indians.”

There are numerous peaceful options to resolve the crisis. The difficult part is to balance them against the major player’s agendas.

“If the current status quo is preserved, then of course India’s image as a major country, as a potential superpower, will take considerable damage,” Kupriyanov said. “Should India and China, and President Yameen, agree to roll the situation back to what it was before the state of emergency was declared, then India will be the bigger winner.”

The upcoming presidential election is an opportunity that both big powers seek to exploit.

“In the period between August and October, the Maldives are having presidential elections. India at this point would benefit the most if the opposition was to have the maximum possible access to the vote, its leaders were not in jail and had no problem taking part in the election,” Kupriyanov said. “China would benefit the most if Yameen were to stay in power, because he’s very pro-China. Or if that doesn’t work, it could secure its political and economic interests in the Maldives, perhaps with an agreement with India, in case a pro-Indian candidate wins.”

For now, the world’s two most populous nations are warily watching, each waiting for the other to pounce on a country of 1,200 tiny islands, barely visible on the map next to them.