Diplomacy in Maldivian Elections: India, China & the Future

  Oct 12, 2023

India, China, and the Maldivian Presidential Elections: Navigating the Diplomatic Waters

In the Maldives’ recent presidential elections, Mohamed Muizzu from the Progressive Alliance triumphed, sparking questions about the future direction of the nation’s foreign policy.


Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP): Traditionally leaned towards India, valuing their geographic proximity and shared democratic principles.

Progressive Alliance: Historically favoured closer ties with China due to differing viewpoints with India and its nationalist stance.

History of Relationships:

Under President Abdullah Yameen (2013-2018), Maldives grew closer to China, joining initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and inking a Free Trade Agreement.

Ibrahim Solih, Yameen’s successor, rekindled the relationship with India, initiating numerous joint projects.

Current Scenario:

Muizzu’s victory could potentially provide China the inroad it’s been seeking in the Indian Ocean region.

Post-election, Muizzu emphasized a “pro-Maldives” stance, hinting at revisiting agreements with India.

China’s Opportunity:

The Maldives’ strategic location makes it a prime spot for maritime surveillance and military bases. China, having felt sidestepped in the last five years, might aim to reinstate its influence.

India’s Position:

Despite the current political winds, the Maldives recognizes India’s integral role in regional security and trade. Even during strained times, defence cooperation persisted. The recent Sri Lankan financial crisis serves as a cautionary tale about over-reliance on China.


While Muizzu’s leanings might incline towards China, the interplay between India and China in the region isn’t confined to this single election.
Both nations will strive to maintain influence, with India expected to demonstrate adaptability and pragmatism as long as its security concerns are respected.

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