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China. The military delegation visited strategic countries from the point of view of rivalry with India

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A Chinese military delegation on Wednesday concluded a series of visits to India's three closest neighbors – the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal – to strengthen bilateral defense ties and deepen ties in the region that Delhi considers its sphere of influence.

A Chinese military delegation visited the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal to discuss closer cooperation in the field of defense, the Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday. Beijing is seeking to strengthen ties with South Asian countries to counter its influence Indiaits main rival in the region.

“Agreements have been reached to strengthen defense cooperation between the People's Liberation Army and the countries concerned,” it said in a statement published after a series of meetings that lasted from March 4 to Wednesday.

A delegation of officials from the Department of International Military Cooperation held “in-depth consultations”, including with the pro-China President of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, and representatives of the defense departments of the three countries.

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China is seeking to strengthen bilateral defense relations and deepen relations in the regionWU HAO/PAP/EPA

China and India are seeking the favor of the Maldives and Sri Lanka

In the face of growing geopolitical tensions, the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean has increased, through which important sea transport routes from east to west run. Along them there are, among others: The Maldives and neighboring Sri Lanka, whose favor they are seeking China and India.

Last week, the Maldivian authorities announced the signing of a “military assistance” agreement with China. This came after Indian soldiers who were helping operate three reconnaissance planes donated to the Maldives by India to patrol the maritime border were ordered to leave the country.

Beijing, the Maldives' largest external creditor, gained leverage in the country after Muizzu took power. Last November, he defeated pro-Indian president Ibrahim Solih.

Beijing also maintains close ties with Nepal, which is led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a former Maoist guerrilla known by his nickname Prachanda, or “Fierce.”

This country of 30 million people is at a geopolitical crossroads. China and India are competing there in the arena of hydropower development. The hydropower potential of Nepal, through which 6,000 rivers and streams, estimated at 42,000 MW.

Main photo source: WU HAO/PAP/EPA

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