The Maldives' close ally and South Asian neighbour India has expressed concerns over the sale of Kaafu atoll Feydhoo Finolhu island to a Chinese firm.
According to Indian news outlets, some diplomats have expressed concern that selling an island nearest to the capital island and main airport of the Maldives might have a negative effect on the strategic interests of India.
“India and Maldives are expected to discuss the selling of some islands of Maldives during the upcoming visit of Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim in February,” said the Economic Times of India, referring to a government official.
The Maldives Government has not yet disclosed the name of the Chinese company to which which Feydhoo Finolhu was sold for USD 4 million for a period of 50 years.
It remains unclear why selling Feydhoo Finolhu hinders the strategic interests of India as the island was awarded for tourism development. Several companies of India have also been investing in the Maldives' tourism industry among other sectors.
After the amendments brought to the Tourism Act this year, Feydhoo Finolhu and 10 other Islands and a lagoon near Huvafenfushi Resort were included in the government's list to be sold without bid. Feydhoo Finolhu was initially to be sold at a price of USD 3 million.
Meanwhile. the opposition has been criticizing that Feydhoo Finolhu was sold at a very low price than expected. Some experts say the island could have earned an amount of USD 10 million at least.
Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom also criticised the decision to sell off Feydhoo Finolhu, calling on the Ministry of Tourism to leave it as a picnic island for the citizens of capital Male who have no other uninhabited islands nearby for such pleasures.
Furthermore, India had previously expressed concern over the increasing influence of China in the Maldives. Heavy criticisms have been aimed at the many ongoing projects which were kicked off with financial assistance provided by China.
Conversely, others have stated that the Maldives cannot only wait for India to provide fund for development projects.