The Maldives, known for its pristine beaches and amazing underwater reefs, is in a state of emergency. Meanwhile its neighboring country is publicly and immodestly discussing whether to interfere in its domestic affairs.
Facing the tense situation in Malé, India should exercise restraint. The Maldives is trapped in turmoil. This is the country’s internal affairs and China firmly opposes outside interference. More than that, China should take necessary measures to stop India if New Delhi moves to intervene militarily.
China is not fighting the concept of India’s sphere of influence. Some Indians are pondering a military intervention. However, it does not accord with basic norms governing international relations, which includes respecting other countries’ sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other states. If the situation in the Maldives deteriorates, solutions should be made using international mechanisms. Unilateral military interference has already jeopardized the current global order.
On November 1988, a group of anti-government Maldivians assisted by armed mercenaries from Sri Lanka, launched a military riot in Malé, attempting to overthrow the government. New Delhi answered the Maldivian president’s call for help, dispatched 1,600 troops by air and put the situation under control. Some say India saved the Maldives’ government. Others tend to believe the operation provided New Delhi with a chance to spread its hegemony.
The Maldives’ dependence on India for security since then has made New Delhi grow arrogant and bring Malé into its sphere of influence. But Malé is tired of New Delhi, which at all times tries to dominate Maldives’ politics. Since Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen assumed office in 2013, the nation has proactively interacted with the US, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, gradually heading toward more independent and balanced diplomacy.
This apparently irritated India. Perhaps New Delhi has been seeking an opportunity to showcase its military again in its “backyard.”
Without UN empowerment, there would be no righteous cause for any armed force to intervene. 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. India should not underestimate China’s opposition to unilateral military intervention.