TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- China and the Maldives, an island nation situated to the south of India, are working together to establish a Joint Ocean Observation Station but India fears this is one of China's tactics to build an addition to its alleged "String of Pearls" encirclement of India, and one that undercuts India's security ties with Maldives, reports Times of India.
The location of the observatory is critical according to the Indian counterpart as they say the construction is uncomfortably close to Indian waters and tests red lines with its ties to the Maldives.
The observatory is located on Makunudhoo Island, which is one of the closest islands to India and will allow the Chinese access to an important Indian ocean shipping route through which many ships and merchants pass, as reported by the Indian media outlet.
The report also mentions that both Maldives and China are not providing much information about the project which is creating more curiosity and worry from India.
Indian officials have confirmed to their local media that an official agreement title Protocol on Establishment of Joint Ocean Observation Station between China and the Maldives was finalized sometime when both the countries also controversially signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The agreement involves cooperation between the two countries to reduce trade barriers – import quotas and tariffs – and to increase trade of goods and services with each other.