Maldives won’t be bullied, president says as India row deepens


China’s state broadcaster CCTV said deals included “infrastructure construction, medical care and health care, improvement of people’s livelihoods, new energy sources, agriculture and marine environmental protection” agreements.

“Longstanding China-Maldives relations are built upon an exemplary model of mutual respect,” Muizzu’s office said.

“DIMINISH RELIANCE”

Tensions with New Delhi flared after three of Muizzu’s junior ministers reportedly called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “clown” and a “terrorist” in since-deleted social media posts earlier this month.

Bollywood actors and some of India’s cricket greats have responded with calls for compatriots to boycott their southern neighbour and instead book their next holidays closer to home.

Tourism accounts for nearly a third of the Maldives’ economy, with Indians making up the largest share of foreign arrivals.

Muizzu said the Maldives will also slash reliance on India for healthcare and medicine, adding more countries where citizens needing government-paid health treatment abroad can go.

Most eligible citizens currently get treatment in India, as well as small numbers in Sri Lanka and Thailand, officials said.

But Muizzu said the government would “diminish reliance on … a select group of countries”, without specifically mentioning India, and would now support treatment also in the United Arab Emirates.

Most pharmaceuticals in the Maldives are currently imported from India, and Male will now seek to import medicines from the United States and European nations, he said.

At the same time, Muizzu, the former capital’s mayor, suffered his first electoral setback as his party’s candidate lost the vote to replace him.

Adam Azim of the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which is seen as more pro-Indian, won the seat.



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