Ortega counts on China: Nicaragua breaks off relations with Taiwan

Status: 10.12.2021 9:22 a.m.

Taiwan surprisingly loses a diplomatic ally: Nicaragua broke off relations with the island nation in favor of China. The US condemned the move and called on other countries to support Taiwan.

Nicaragua has severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and committed itself to Beijing’s one-China policy. Foreign Minister Denis Moncada declared that the People’s Republic of China was the “only legitimate government” representing “all of China”.

The reason for switching sides is unclear. But countries mostly expect economic advantages from a good relationship with the People’s Republic. Beijing also often puts Taiwan’s diplomatic allies under massive pressure. After talks by delegations from Nicaragua and China in the east Chinese port city of Tianjin, the two countries began their new relations by signing a communiqué.

A foreign office spokesman in Beijing welcomed the move to Nicaragua, which he described as an “important country” in Central America. “That is the right decision.” The fact that Taiwan is part of China “is a universally agreed norm of international relations”.

USA calls on states to strengthen relationships

Taiwan, on the other hand, was “dismayed”. As the Foreign Ministry announced in Taipei, its diplomatic staff will be withdrawn from Managua. “We regret that President Daniel Ortega’s government is ignoring the long friendship between the peoples of Taiwan and Nicaragua.”

The USA also expressed criticism of the move by the Central American state. They called on all democratic countries to strengthen their relations with Taiwan: “All countries that value democratic institutions” should “expand their engagement with Taiwan,” said the US State Department.

The decision of the President of Nicaragua, Ortega, also “does not reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people”. According to the US State Department, the recent presidential election in the Central American country, in which Ortega was elected for a fourth term, was a “hoax”. With the decision to see Beijing instead of Taipei as the sole and legal representative of China, Nicaragua is losing “a reliable partner for its democratic and economic growth,” the statement said.

China’s fight for Taiwan

Ortega’s decision is a success for Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic and tries by all means to isolate it internationally. The 23 million Taiwanese, on the other hand, have long considered themselves to be independent. The conflict goes back to the civil war in China. At that time the Chinese national Kuomintang party was defeated and fled with its troops to Taiwan, while the communists founded the People’s Republic on the mainland in 1949. To this day Beijing threatens to conquer Taiwan in order to achieve “reunification”.

Since China-critical President Tsai Ing-wen took office in Taiwan in 2016, Beijing has increased the pressure on their diplomatic allies and woos them with economic promises. Since then, Taiwan has lost eight partners. In 2017 and 2018, the Latin American states of Panama, Dominican Republic and El Salvador had already broken with Taiwan in favor of China – most recently the Solomon Islands and Kiribati in the Pacific.

After Nicaragua changed sides, Taiwan is only recognized diplomatically by 14 countries. The USA, which does not officially recognize Taipei itself, had recently placed itself increasingly behind Taiwan in the face of increasing threats from Beijing. US companies have been selling weapon systems and armaments to the island for years. For example, US President Joe Biden invited the Taiwanese government to his democracy summit, but Beijing did not.


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