February 19, 2018

Nasheed on Chinese investments in Maldives

"As of January, obligations to China accounted for "nearly 80%" of the Maldives' foreign debt, according to Nasheed. Much of the money went into infrastructure, including roads, bridges and airports. But these are "vanity projects," according to Nasheed: "roads going to nowhere, airports that [will sit] empty." All the while, the Maldives' debts are accruing interest at high rates, Nasheed said.

The country must start making payments on this debt by 2019 or 2020, according to the former leader. If the Maldives falls behind, China will "ask for equity" from the owners of various islands and infrastructure operators, and Beijing will then "get free hold of that land," he said."

Chinese infrastructure projects often serve as the conduit for political and normative influence. Such a pattern has been clear in Southeast Asia where China rewarded Cambodia for blocking an ASEAN joint state-ment on the South China Sea issue. In Africa, Chinese lines of credit provide an alternative to loans from in-ternational donors to which reform conditionalities are attached. And in the EU, there is an increasing cor-relation between Chinese investments and voting by some member states on EU resolutions or joint EU de-marches in the UN according to China’s foreign policy objectives.

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