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The biggest rivalry you're not hearing about
Xi and Modi at the 2017 BRICS summit in China. Photo: KENZABURO FUKUHARA/AFP/Getty Images

Sometimes the biggest global stories play out in the smallest places. Last week a political crisis in the Maldives, a tiny, idyllic island nation in the Indian Ocean, gave us a glimpse of broader geopolitical tensions between two giants: India and China.

Narrowly, the current turmoil in the Maldives has to do with a bitter rivalry between the head-cracking current president, Abdallah Yameen, and exiled former president, Mohamed Nasheed, who leads the opposition. But things took on a global dimension fast when Nasheed called on India to send in troops to restore order and roll back Chinese influence on the islands.