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SOURCE: ANI

India is “watchful” of the presence of a Chinese vessel in the Maldives and taking “appropriate measures” to safeguard its national and economic security, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

“As these developments are concerned especially in our neighbourhood and beyond. All these developments which have an impact on our national security, on our economic security, we are watchful of them and we take whatever appropriate measures that are taken to safeguard it,” MEA official spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a press briefing.

“These are developments on which we keep our close eye and take measures that are appropriate on our side,” he added.

Earlier, Chinese marine research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 returned to Maldivian waters, marking its second visit to the archipelago nation within two months.

The vessel was observed docked at the Thilafushi industrial island’s harbour, although the specific reason for its return remains undisclosed by the government. However, it’s worth noting that the government had previously confirmed permission for the ship to dock during its initial visit.

It is pertinent to note that after the first visit of Chinese vessel to Maldives in February, Defence Minister Ghassan Maumoon told the Maldivian Parliament that the Chinese vessel would not conduct any research despite sailing inside and near Maldivian waters.

“There was no permission given to conduct any research in the Maldives territory. After docking in Male’ and buying food, they did a crew change. People who came on an airplane went onboard the boat and those on the boat left via the airplane. That was the permission that was given,” Ghassan said on March 25.

The Chinese vessel docked in Maldives after Pro-China Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu’s ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) won a supermajority in the Maldives Parliament. His party won 60 seats in the parliamentary elections.

It is pertinent to know that ties between India and the Maldives become strained since Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office.

Despite this, India has always retained its soft diplomatic stand for the Maldives and continued its bilateral relations with the archepological nation.

India has increased its development assistance to the Maldives despite strained ties between the two countries.

The new Maldivian president, Mohamed Muizzu, had demanded that Indian troops leave his country, leading to tensions.

However, India has continued its development projects in the Maldives, spending nearly Rs 771 crore, almost twice the budgeted amount, on various initiatives.