Maldives' southern city answer to India-China 'cold war', says Nasheed

Maldives' southernmost city Addu remains the answer to the brewing "cold war" between regional giants India and China, former president Mohamed Nasheed said Tuesday.

Speaking to his supporters during his trip to the south after returning to the country from self-exile, Nasheed said the well-off Addu city was strategically key to the Indian Ocean.

"We're seeing a shift in the Indian Ocean. There's a cold war brewing in the Indian Ocean. This is a fact not lost on the people of Addu. The city of Addu will face the brunt of the grievance between India and China. But I believe Addu will ultimately bring stability to this region," Nasheed said.

He also insisted that the people of Addu now has a responsibility to bring regional stability.

"Since the beginning, peace and stability in India is directly linked to peace and stability in the Maldives. So the people of Addu must understand that your responsibility is not only to peace and stability in the Maldives but to regional stability as well," he explained.

The new government would aim to develop Addu with the help of the whole world as the city would ultimately hold the answer to regional stability, he added.

Maldives has remained strategically key to in the battle between India and China for regional supremacy.

Bilateral ties between India and Maldives had soured after the now defeated Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in February declared state of emergency following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release a group of opposition leaders convicted in widely criticized trials.

India has also been irked by Yameen's government turning to China to realize his ambitious infrastructure development plans. Beijing has provided loans to fund several major infrastructure projects including a landmark bridge connecting the capital Male to the airport island Hulhule.

Concerns that Maldives would fall into a debt trap like Sri Lanka were further fueled after the island nation signed its first bilateral free trade agreement with China late last year.