India boycotts inauguration of China-funded bridge in Maldives

India boycotts inauguration of China-funded bridge in Maldives
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NEW DELHI: China’s flagship infrastructure project in the Maldives, a bridge linking capital Male with the airport island, has again brought into focus the widening gulf between India and its Indian Ocean neighbour. India chose to stay away from the inauguration on Thursday of what is officially known as the Sinamale Bridge with its ambassador Akhilesh Mishra not attending the event.
“He had been invited by our government but he didn’t come,” said a top Maldivian government official.
Indian officials chose not to comment on the issue. Mishra’s decision to skip the inauguration, which took place in the presence of a representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping and was marked by Chinese fireworks, was justified later with envoys of other countries being allegedly treated shabbily by President Abdulla Yameen’s security staff at the event.
The Maldivian opposition alleged that only the Chinese ambassador’s car was allowed to drive up to the venue. “Ambassadors of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh boycotted the bridge inauguration event as their cars were stopped by Yameen’s security and they were asked to walk. Only Chinese ambassador’s car was allowed to pass up to the venue. Such an insult to traditional friends,” tweeted MP and joint opposition spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof.Yameen went on to describe the $200 million bridge as “the biggest achievement in our diplomatic history”.
The president who is accused of having undermined all state institutions, even jailing many of his political opponents, in the run up to the elections later this month believes the bridge has further invigorated his chances of returning to power. Also known as China-Maldives Friendship Bridge.