In a move that has raised eyebrows in the diplomatic circles, China opened its Embassy in Male on Tuesday, two days ahead of the scheduled opening of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meeting. China has observer status in SAARC.

“The mission was opened without any fanfare or a formal ceremony with invitations going out,” confirmed a top source here. Many in the Maldives and the delegates, who had already arrived for the SAARC meeting, were wondering about the timing of the opening of the office.

Only four SAARC nations India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh have established diplomatic presence in the Maldives. Others, including the United States, have non-resident embassies either in New Delhi or Colombo. The US Embassy in Colombo looks after the Maldives. China's Embassy in Colombo was catering to the Maldives till now.

This is because of the very small landmass in the Maldives and the difficulty in allocating land to countries that desired to have a presence. Cooperation between the Maldives and China have been on the upswing for a few years now.

Keywords: SAARC meet

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