Athaulla A. Rasheed


Today we observe an enhanced development cooperation between the Maldives and China. This article discusses a constructivist viewpoint about Maldives-China relations and their relational impact on the state of power dynamics in the South Asia region. It makes two conceptual claims: first, that Maldives-China relations are shaped by mutual ideas about development cooperation and second, that an intersubjective process of foreign policy making has influenced the power dynamics in South Asia. According to this ideational framework, coalition or alliance is formed and shaped by ideas constitutive of individual preferences of the Maldives towards China rather than traditional power arrangements between South Asian neighbours. It explains that foreign policy interests of the Maldives are not exclusively shaped by materialist and strategic positions of other states in South Asia.


China; Maldives; South Asia, regional balance of power, constructivism; foreign policy

Full Text:



Adler, E. (2012). Constructivism in international relations: sources, contributions, and debates. In W. Carlsnaes, T. Risse and B. A. Simmons (Eds) Handbook of International Relations. London: SAGE Publications.

Al Jazeera (2012) ‘Small justice served to small states’: Waheed speaks at UN. In Minivan News. Retrieved from

Aljazeera (2013). Maldives swears in new president. Retrieved from

Antola, E. (2002). The future of small states in the EU. In M. Farrell, S. Fella, & M. Newman (Eds), European Integration in the 21st Century. London: Sage.

Asian Development Bank (2015). Maldives overcoming the challenges of a small island state. Retrieved from

Asia-Pacific Edition (2018). Spotlight: Former Maldivian president's statement on China "grabbing land" false, irresponsible. Retrieved from

Asim, M. (2016). The Commonwealth’s attitude towards small nations is nothing but kneejerk grandstanding–and that’s why the Maldives has quit. In Independent. Retrieved from

Barletta, M. and Trinkunas, H. (2004). Regime type and regional security in Latin America: toward a “Balance of Identity” theory. In T.V. Paul, J. J. Wirtz & M. Fortmann (Eds), Balance of Power (pp. 334–359). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Béland, D. (2009). Ideas, institutions, and policy change. Journal of European Public Policy, 16(5), 701–718.

Betzold, C., Castro, P. & Weiler, F. (2012). AOSIS in the UNFCCC negotiations: from unity to fragmentation? Climate Policy, 12, 591–613.

Blyth, M. (2002). Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century. NY: Cambridge University Press.

Browning, C. S. (2006). Small, smart and salient? Rethinking identity in the small states literature. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 19(4), 669–684.

Busse, N. (1999). Constructivism and Southeast Asian Security. The Pacific Review, 12(1), 39–60.

Cheng, J. Y. S. & Wankun, Z. (2002). Patterns and dynamics of China's international strategic behaviour. Journal of Contemporary China, 11(31), 235–260.

Chinese Embassy (2011). President of Maldives Nasheed Meets with Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun. Retrieved from

Chinese Embassy in Australia (2018). Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on February 8, 2018. Retrieved from

Chong, A. & Maass, M. (2010). Introduction: the foreign policy power of small states. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 23(3), 381–382.

Chung, C. P. (2018). What are the strategic and economic implications for South Asia of China's Maritime Silk Road initiative? The Pacific Review, 31(3), 315–332.

Cornett, P. (2016). China’s “New Silk Road” and US-Japan alliance geostrategy: challenges and opportunities. Issues & Insights, 16(10). Retrieved from

Daddow, Oliver (2018). Interpreting foreign policy through discourse analysis. Retreived from

Das, K. C. (2017). The making of One Belt, One Road and dilemmas in South Asia. China Report, 53(2), 125–142.

Dasgubta, S. (2017). Maldives, China sign 12 agreements to promote OBOR. The Times of India. Retrieved from

Dasgubta, S. (2018). China says it is against external intervention in the Maldives. The Times of India. Retrieved from

Doty, R. L. (1993). Foreign policy as social construction. International Studies Quarterly, 37(2), 297–320.

Evan, R. (2013). Maldives judges undermining democracy: U.N. rights chief. Reuters. Retrieved from

Flockhart, T. (2008). Constructivism and Foreign Policy. In S. Smith, A. Hadfield & T. Dunne (Eds), Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases. UK: Oxford University Press.

Ganguly, S. and Scobell, A. (2005). India and the United States: forging a security partnership. World Policy Journal, 22(2), 40.

Gayoom, A. Y. A. (2014). Press statement by His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives, on the state visit by His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China. Retrieved from

Ghosh, P.K. (2017). Power dynamics in the Indian Ocean region: India’s maritime outreach. IAPS Dialogue: The Online Magazine of the Institute of Asia & Pacific Studies. Retrieved from

Haibing, Z. (2017). The development and transformation of China’s foreign aid. In M. P. Goodman, D. Remler & Y. Yu (Eds), Parallel Perspectives on the Global Economic Order: A U.S.-China Essay Collection. Washington: Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved from

Hellmann, G. & Wolf, R. (1993). Neorealism neoliberal institutionalism, and the future of NATO. Security Studies, 3(1), 3–43.

Hey, J. A. K. (2003). Small States in World Politics: Explaining Foreign Policy Behaviour. USA: Lynne Reinner Publishers, Inc.

Houghton, D. P. (2007). Reinvigorating the study of foreign policy decision making: toward a constructivist approach. Foreign Policy Analysis, 3(1), 24–45.

Jacob, J. (2018). China’s growing ties with Maldives give India the jitters. Hisdustan Times. Retrieved from

Jahangir, A. (2013). Changing dynamics of South Asian balance of power. Journal of South Asian Studies, 01(01), 50–58.

Jaschik, K. (2014). Small states and international politics: Climate change, the Maldives and Tuvalu. International Politics, 51(2), 272–293.

Jervis, R. (1978). Co-operation under the security dilemma. World Politics, 30(2), 167–214.

Joshi, R. (2018). View: China testing India’s resolve in Maldives. The Economic Times. Retrieved from

Khaleel, Ali (1999). Foreign Policy Orientation of Small Island States: An Evaluation of the Foreign Policies of Vanuatu and the Maldives. Canterbury: University of Canterbury. Retrieved from

Katzenstein, P. (Ed). (1996). The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics. New York: Columbia University Press.

Keohane R. O. (1969). ‘Lilliputians’ dilemmas: small states in international politics. International Organization, 23(2), 291–310.

Keohane R. O. (1984). After hegemony: cooperation and discord in the political economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Keohane, R. O. (1989). International Institutions and State Power. London: Westview Press, Inc.

Kowert, P. A. (2001). The peril and promise of constructivist theory. 立命館国際研究 13(3). Retrieved from

Kumar, A. (2012). Chinese engagement with the Maldives: impact on security environment in the Indian Ocean region. Strategic Analysis, 36(2), 276–289.

Kumar, S. Y. S. (2016). China’s footprints in Maldives: concern for india? Artha Journal of Social Sciences, 15(4), 15–29.

Lee, D. & Smith, N. J. (2010). Small state discourses in the international political economy. Third World Quarterly, 31(7), 1091–1105.

Maldives Independent (2015). President Yameen’s speech on 50 years of UN membership. at

Maldives Mission (2015). Statement by H.E. Ms. Dunya Maumoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the General Debate of the Seventieth Session of the UN General Assembly - 3 October 2015. Retrieved from

Mitra, D. (2017). Modi criticises china's One Belt One Road plan, says connectivity can't undermine sovereignty. The Wire. Retrieved from

Ministry of Commerce of China (2017). ‘Interpretation of the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement by Director-General of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs of MOFCOM’. Retrieved from

Panke, D. (2012). Small states in multilateral negotiations. What have we learned? Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 25(3), 387–398.

Pararajasingham, A. (2017). India’s Regional Power Credentials Under Threat by China. The Diplomat. Retrieved from

Paul, T.V., Wirtz, J. J. & Fortmann, M. (2004). Balance of Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

President’s Office (2014a). Joint press communique between the Republic of Maldives and the People’s Republic of China, 15 September 2014, Male'. Retrieved from

President’s Office (2014b). Remarks by ‎ His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, during the Joint Press Statement with President Yameen. Retrieved from

President’s Office (2015). “China is one of our closest friends” – Vice President. Retrieved from

President’s Office (2017a). Unofficial Translation of the Independence Day Remarks by His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives. Retrieved from

President’s Office (2017b). Statement by His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives, at China-Maldives Business Leaders forum. Retrieved from

Ramachandran, S. (2018). The China-Maldives vonnection: with a new FTA, China cements its influence in Maldives, much to India’s dismay. The Diplomat. Retrieved from

Rasheed, A. A (2013). An institutionalist approach to understand the recent political change in the Maldives. LAWASIA journal of the University of Queensland, Australia.

Rasheed, A. A (2015). Development, development policy and governance in the Maldives: A political economy perspective. MNU Journal, Maldives 3(1). Retrieved from

Rasheed, A. A. (2016). Changing China-South Asia Relations: A Constructivist Approach. Dialogue e-Journal. Retrieved from

Reuters (2015). Maldives allows foreign ownership of land despite opposition concern. Retrieved from

Reuters (2016). Britain could use sanctions to pressure Maldives government. Retrieved from

Reuters (2017). Maldives rushes through trade pact with China despite opposition. Retrieved from

Robinson, J.J. (2013). New Maldives leader vows stability after crisis, protests. Reuters. Retrieve from

Rousseau, D. L. & Garcia-Retamero, R. (2007). Identity, power, and threat perception: a cross-national experimental study. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 51(5).

Rowlands, I. H. (2001). Classical theories of international relations. In U. Luterbacher & D. F. Sprinz (Eds), International Relations and Global Climate Change (Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation). Massachusetts: the MIT Press.

Schweller, R. L. (2016). The balance of power in world politics. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Retrieved from

Shaahunaaz, F. (2016). Maldives pledges full support for China’s new silk road. Retrieved from

Sharma, R. (2012). India, Maldives Row Over Airport Contract. The Diplomat. Retrieved from

Simpson, A. W. (2006). Small states in world politics. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 19(4), 649–649.

Small, A. (2018). The backlash to Belt and Road: a south Asian battle over Chinese economic power. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from

Smith, S. (2001). Foreign policy is what states make of it. In V. Kubalkova (Ed), Foreign Policy in A Constructed World. London & New York: M. S. Sharpe.

South China Morning Post (2018). Maldives looks to ‘long lost cousin’ China, despite ‘brother’ India’s concern. Retrieved from

State Council of PRC (2014). China’s foreign aid (2014). Retrieved from

The Guardian (2015). Release Mohamed Nasheed – an innocent man and the Maldives’ great hope. Retrieved from

The Guardian (2016). Maldives quits Commonwealth over alleged rights abuses. Retrieved from

The Guardian (2017). 'We need development': Maldives switches focus from climate threat to mass tourism. Retrieved from

The Indian Express (2018). Why is the FTA between China and Maldives important to India? Retrieved from

The Ministry of Commerce of China (2017). China and Maldives Sign the Free Trade Agreement. Retrieved from

The Sunday Leader (2018). China will not interfere in the internal affairs of the Maldives. Retrieved from

Thomas, R. G. C. (2004). South Asian security balancing in a Western dominant world. In T.V. Paul, J. J. Wirtz & M. Fortmann (Eds), Balance of Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Tiezzi, S. (2018). China to India: Respect Maldives’ Sovereignty. The Diplomat. Retrieved form

UN (2009). Statement by His Excellency Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives to the General Debate of the General Assembly. Retrieved from

Walt, S. M. (1985). Alliance Formation and the balance of world power. International Security, 9(4). 3–43.

Walt, S. M. (1987). The Origins of Alliances. NY: Cornell University Press.

Waltz, K. N. (1979). Theory of International Politics. MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Wendt, A. (1992). Anarchy is what states make of it. International Organization 46, 394–419.

Wendt, A. (1999). Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wicaksana, I.G. W. (2009). The constructivist approach towards foreign policy analysis. Indonesian Journal of Social Sciences, 1(1).

Widmaier, W. W. (2005). The democratic peace is what states make of it: a constructivist analysis of the US-Indian ‘Near-Miss’ in the 1979 South Asian Crisis. European Journal of International Relations, 11(3), 431–455.

Widmaier, W. W. (2017). Constructing foreign policy crises: interpretive leadership in the cold war and war on terrorism. International Studies Quarterly, 51(4), 779–794.

Wivel, A. (2005), The security challenge of small EU member states: interests, identity and the development of the EU as a security actor. JCMS, 43(2), 393–412.

Xinhuanet (2018). Feature: China-Maldives Friendship Bridge leads to brighter future of Maldives. Retrieved from

Xinhuanet (2017) “Work Together to Build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”: Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China At the Opening Ceremony of The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on 14 May 2017. Retrieved from

Yanbing, Z. & Ying, H. (2012). Foreign aid: the ideological differences between China and the West. CIR 22(2). Retrieved from


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Athaulla A. Rasheed

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Journal of South Asian Studies
ISSN: 2307-4000 (Online), 2308-7846 (Print)
© EScience Press. All Rights Reserved.