Antonyâ€™s Maldives visit to curb China influence In a move to strengthen ties with Maldives to check the gaining foothold of China in a bid to play a bigger role in the Indian Ocean region, Defence Minister AK Antony will visit Male for three days starting Saturday. Given the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean region and countries located on its rim in the fast changing international security matrix, Antony is visiting Maldives for the second time in four years. He will inaugurate a military hospital there built by India besides holding talks with the Maldives defence establishment on bilateral issues, reviewing anti-piracy operations and threat of terrorism from sea lanes. India has already supplied a Dornier aircraft, a helicopter, some off shore patrol vessels and radars to Maldives for surveillance of its exclusive economic zone. Moreover, with pirates trying to shift their presence to this region, the Indian Navy in collaboration with Maldives is carrying out regular anti-piracy patrols. Stating this here on Tuesday, sources said India may give some more platforms to Maldives for bolstering its coastal and inland security and Antony is likely to discuss this issue with his counterparts there. Elaborating upon the importance of Antony's visit, they said China is slowly expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean region thereby posing a threat to strategic interests of India. In fact, China recently opened its Embassy in Maldives for a larger reach in the region and coming years will see Beijing and New Delhi vying for preeminent role in the Indian Ocean, they said.