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China all set to buy atolls and islands from Maldives

ANI  |  New Delhi 

The Maldivian Parliament is moving towards adopting a constitution amendment bill today which will clear the decks for China to buy atolls and islands from the Government of Maldives.

This, say highly placed sources, would be an alarming development for India and the region, as China's sovereign territory could now be a stone's throw away from India once the purchase takes place.

That the Maldivian Government is taking this decision seems like an economic-development oriented one due to its inability to develop far flung islands and atolls.

The line being taken is that this will generate employment for the Maldivian people, which experts say is not going to happen, as Chinese entities are known to only employ Chinese workers.

The stark similarity here is the migration of Chinese workers to Gilgit in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where local projects funded by China are only employing Chinese labour.

The belief in well informed circles is that the Maldivian Government is aware of this, but then certain powers that be, are more interested in personal interests once these deals start happening.

There is view that this planned move to introduce a second constitution amendment bill by President Yameen Abdul Gayoom could have serious security implications for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), as it would enable foreign entities to own islands and atolls in perpetuity.

There are genuine fears that these islands and atolls, which will initially be bought ostensibly for tourism, could be used for furthering other Chinese designs.

According to reports, the ruling People's Party of Maldives (PPM) presently does not have the required two-thirds majority in the Majlis to pass the proposed constitution amendment bill, and therefore, attempts are being made to enlist the support of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The move to amend the Maldivian Constitution comes soon after the passing of the first constitution amendment bill last week, which reduced the age of eligibility for contesting for the post of vice president.

This apparently paved the way for Adeeb to become Vice President and hold charge of the presidency when Yameen proceeds overseas for medical treatment in the near future.

Three days ago, President Yameen approved a PPM proposal to pull the Maldives out of the Commonwealth in a bid to avoid strictures on his actions. This brazen move resulted in a rebuff by the international community, which has been critical of the undemocratic measures resorted by the Yameen-Adeeb duo.

It is hoped that Majlis members would take into account a broader perspective of their national interests while deliberating over the contents of the second constitution amendment bill when it comes up for vote today, rather than cow towing to the personal ambitions of the nation's incumbent leadership and in the interest of political expediency.

First Published: Wed, July 22 2015. 12:31 IST