Maldives grants Chinese surveillance ship port call, but with restrictions

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Male, Maldives: The Maldivian government has granted Chinese surveillance ship Xiang Yang Hong 3 permission to make a port call in Male, but with the condition that it doesn’t conduct any research activities within the Maldivian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The announcement came amidst concerns from neighboring India, which has previously expressed reservations about the ship’s surveillance activities near Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The Indian government reportedly renewed its concerns with the new Maldivian administration led by President Mohamed Muizzu after his inauguration in November 2023.

While allowing the port call for “operational turn around” (meaning crew rotation and replenishment), the Maldivian government clarified that the ship will not be permitted to conduct any research activities within its waters. This stance differs from Sri Lanka’s recent decision to completely ban all surveillance ships from its EEZ for the entire 2024.

The Xiang Yang Hong 3 is currently in the south-west Indian Ocean region and is expected to dock at Male seaport on February 5th. It remains to be seen whether the Chinese ship will strictly adhere to the Maldivian government’s restrictions or attempt to conduct surveillance despite the official order.

This development highlights the complex geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean region, where countries like India and the Maldives are caught between maintaining friendly relations with China and safeguarding their own security interests. The Maldivian government’s decision to allow the port call while imposing restrictions reflects its attempt to navigate this delicate balance.

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