Media reports about naval maneuvers near the Maldives as China sending a message to India in the Indian Ocean are not based on fact and are designed to sow discord between China and India in the region, Chinese observers said Sunday.
"It's all media hype designed to complicate the situation, creating rivalry scenarios between China and India based on no facts," Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.
India has no reason for its military to intervene in the Maldives, since the Maldivian president took office legitimately and still commands control over the domestic situation, Zhao said.
"Any military intervention, unless requested by the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, would be no different from an invasion and run against international norms."
Although claiming to have received a China defense ministry statement which read "these drills were normal exercises for this year and not aimed at any third party," a Reuters report on Wednesday said that Beijing's naval signals showed "it would not look kindly on any foreign involvement in the Maldives - where it is investing millions of dollars as part of its Belt and Road initiative."
President Yameen on February 5 declared a state of emergency amid a political crisis in the country and the parliament on February 20 approved a 30-day extension to the state of emergency in response to a request from the president, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
India increasingly regards China's growing presence as a threat to those regions over which it historically harbors a hegemonic mentality, Zhao noted.
Because of this perceived threat India will focus on these tiny southern Asian countries and grab them tighter, he believed. China should remain cautious and protect its own interests, he warned.
Sino-Indian relations have not elevated to a standoff or a clash as Western media suggested, Qian Feng, a researcher at the Beijing-based Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, told the Global Times.
What happens now in the Maldives falls within that country's internal affairs and should be properly resolved by various parties in the Maldives through dialogue and negotiation, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press event on February 9.
The international community should play a constructive role on the basis of respecting Maldives' sovereignty and not complicate the situation, Geng said.
Newspaper headline: No Maldives clash with India: observer