Nicaragua ends relations with Taiwan, wins diplomatic victory for China

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The Nicaraguan announcement now leaves just over a dozen countries that have official diplomatic relations with autonomous Taiwan, including other Central American countries, Honduras and Guatemala.

“The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China and Taiwan is unquestionably part of Chinese territory,” Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada said Thursday in a televised announcement from the capital Managua.

“The government of the Republic of Nicaragua severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan as of today and ceased to have any official contact or relationship,” he said.

Mainland China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War over 70 years ago. Taiwan is now a thriving multi-party democracy, but the ruling Chinese Communist Party on the mainland sees the island as an inseparable part of its territory, even though it has never controlled it.

Beijing refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes Taiwan and has spent much of the past 40 years attempting to isolate the island by undermining its diplomatic allies with offers of economic support.

The number of countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan rather than Beijing has declined rapidly in recent years as China seeks to increase its global influence under President Xi Jinping.

In 2018, El Salvador, Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic all said they would no longer recognize Taipei, followed by Solomon Islands and Kiribati in 2019.

And Nicaragua may not be the last country to switch from Taiwan to China in 2021, either.

Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro publicly floated the idea of ​​dropping her country’s diplomatic relations with Taipei, which led to a concerted effort by President Tsai Ing-wen and her government to solidify ties. with the nation of Central America.
Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said on Twitter on Friday that he “highly welcomed” Nicaragua’s decision to end diplomatic relations with Taiwan, “which is in keeping with the prevailing trend of the time and the aspirations of the people.”

“The one-China principle is a consensus widely accepted by the international community and does not allow any dispute,” he said.

Under Xi, relations between Taipei and Beijing have deteriorated to levels not seen in decades. In October, the Chinese military sent a record number of warplanes into the air around the island, amid threats of further military action. Meanwhile, the United States – which transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 – sought to bolster Taiwan on the world stage with large arms sales and high-level visits from US officials.

Thursday’s announcement leaves Taiwan with just 14 diplomatic allies, mostly small Caribbean and Pacific nations, plus the Vatican.

In a statement, the Taiwanese foreign ministry expressed “pain and regret” at the news and said it would in turn sever diplomatic relations with Nicaragua, end bilateral cooperation and evacuate staff. from the country.

“Ortega’s presidency ignored the long-term friendship between Taiwanese and Nicaraguans who shared happiness and unhappiness. We are very sorry to see this,” he said, referring to the recently re-elected leader of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.

“Taiwan, as a part of international society, has the right to maintain diplomatic relations with other countries. We will continue to promote “firm diplomacy” to expand our international space for survival, dedicating ourselves to the maintenance of regional peace and stability, fighting for the international status we deserve and protecting the interests of this nation and the country. good of the people, ”the statement added from Taiwan.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said in a statement that the decision to strengthen ties with Taiwan “deprives the Nicaraguan people of an unwavering partner in their democratic and economic growth.”

“We encourage all countries that attach importance to democratic institutions, transparency, the rule of law and the promotion of economic prosperity for their citizens to expand their engagement with Taiwan,” the statement said.

But speaking on Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the United States of “double standards”, according to state broadcaster CCTV, stressing that Washington has had decades of diplomatic relations with Beijing.

“What right does (the United States) have to prevent other sovereign states from making their own choices? Wang said.

According to the official central Taiwan news agency, this is not the first time that Nicaragua has severed ties with the autonomous island. He previously transferred recognition to Beijing in 1985 – also under President Ortega, who is currently serving his fifth non-consecutive term.

The two countries resumed relations in 1990, under the presidency of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, CNA reported.

Reporting provided by Philip Wang of CNN in Atlanta, Caitlin Hu in New York, Matt Rivers in Mexico City and Wayne Chang and Eric Chueng in Hong Kong.

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