(CBN - Global) April 12 -- The Maldives, a nation composed of hundreds of small islands in the Indian Ocean, may allow China to build a port in the south of the country, raising concerns in India about China's intentions.
"Worrying for India are reports that the Maldives could allow China to build a port in the southern part of the country - in Laamu atoll - directly impinging India's interests in the Indian Ocean region," the Times of India said yesterday. "The location of the island is significant for India."
A spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last July that China is willing to cooperate and engage in dialogue on maritime matters with countries located in the India Ocean, including India, to promote regional peace.
"China has in the past denied that it was contemplating building a military facility in Laamu but the recent evacuation of inhabitants from Gaadhoo, and Chinese presence there, has again raised questions about China's intentions," the paper said.
Indications are that the Maldives intends to permit China to build a port on Gaadhoo island located in the southern atoll, the newspaper said, citing former Maldives Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem. Local residents have already been evacuated and the Chinese are building roads in the area, he said.
"This island sits at the entrance to the one-and-a-half degree channel which is a major international shipping passage that crosses the Maldives," the newspaper quoted Naseem as saying.