Chinese Research Vessel’s Arrival in Maldives: Sparks Geostrategic Concerns

In an unfolding maritime development, the Indian Navy closely monitors the trajectory of the Chinese ocean research vessel XIANG YANG HONG 03 as it advances towards Male, the capital of the Maldives, within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Defence sources confirm the Navy’s active tracking of the vessel across the IOR, Bay of Bengal, and Arabian Sea. Social media reports highlight the vessel’s past involvement in ocean surveys, including instances in 2019 and 2020, heightening concerns about China’s growing maritime influence.

This noteworthy occurrence coincides with the ongoing efforts of the recently established Maldivian government, led by President Mohamed Muizzu, to fortify diplomatic ties with China. Following President Muizzu’s recent visit to China, where he solidified agreements and expanded engagements with Beijing, Vice Minister Sun Haiyan of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party paid a courtesy call on President Muizzu. During the meeting, China expressed interest in strengthening strategic bilateral relations and providing training opportunities across various sectors in the Maldives.

Interestingly, this warming association with China comes amid strained relations between the Maldives and India during Muizzu’s leadership. Criticism has been directed at the President’s administration for derogatory remarks against Indian Prime Minister Modi, resulting in the suspension of three government ministers. President Muizzu, known for his anti-India stance since assuming office, has also advocated for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel engaged in humanitarian missions within the Maldives.

The author is a Delhi-based, independent contributor to print and online publications