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Most read in 2018

Maldives faces Chinese 'land grab' over unpayable debts, ex-leader warns

Political crisis worsens cash-strapped island nation's plight

Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed (Photo by Yuji Kuronuma)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Massive debts threaten to force the Maldives to cede territory to China as early as 2019, former President Mohamed Nasheed said, warning that a flawed presidential election this year would lead to a Chinese takeover of the island nation.

"We can't pay the $1.5 to 2 billion debt to China," Nasheed told the Nikkei Asian Review in an interview in Sri Lanka. He argued that the Indian Ocean country, known mostly as a tourist destination, takes in less than $100 million a month in government revenue.

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