To counter China, India invests in infrastructure in Maldives

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India on Thursday pledged an investment of $ 550 million to build bridges and causeways in the Maldives, in an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean.

Under the tenure of the previous president, Abdulla Yameen, the South Asian archipelago borrowed billions of dollars from Beijing and made numerous contracts with Chinese companies for infrastructure projects.

This relationship of financial dependence has fueled concerns in New Delhi and western capitals about the expansion of Chinese influence in the region. Since the change of leadership in Male at the end of 2018, India has been trying to regain a foothold in this nation of 1,192 islands.

This new investment brings to more than two billion dollars the sums promised by India to its neighbor since the election of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, indicated the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This money is part of financial support for the construction of bridges and causeways to link the capital Malé to three neighboring islands, according to Abdulla Shahid, the head of Maldivian diplomacy. The deadline for completion of the works was not specified.

“When completed, this project will be the largest infrastructure project in the Maldives,” Abdulla Shahid said in a statement.

His Indian counterpart also pledged $ 250 million to help the Maldives fight the coronavirus outbreak and recover from the economic shock.

The Covid-19 disease has killed 21 people and officially infected 5,300 people in the archipelago of 340,000 people. The pandemic brought a brutal halt to the Maldives’ luxury tourism sector, its main source of foreign exchange.

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