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Nicaragua breaks with Taiwan, resumes ties with China

Nicaragua's government has broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, switching allegiance to China, it announced on Thursday.

Nicaragua’s government has broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, switching allegiance to China, it announced on Thursday.

“The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua declares that it recognizes that in the world there is only one single China,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Denis Moncada said in a statement.

“The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory,” he added.

The reason for switching sides was initially unclear.

Taiwan also announced the move. “It’s with great regret we end diplomatic ties with Nicaragua. Long-standing friendship and successful cooperation benefiting the people of both countries were disregarded by the Ortega government,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter.

In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman also confirmed the change.

“China and Nicaragua signed the Joint Communique on the Resumption of Diplomatic Relations Between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Nicaragua.”

“The two governments have decided to recognize each other and resume diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, effective from the date of signature of this communique,” a statement read further.

“This is the right choice that is in line with the global trend and has people’s support. China highly appreciates this decision.”

“There is but one China in the world and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal Government representing the whole of China,” the statement added.

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. These facts are grounded in history and law, and represent a universally agreed norm governing international relations.”

The US State Department condemned Nicaragua’s move, saying “the sham election on November 7 did not provide it with any mandate to remove Nicaragua from the family of American democracies,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

“Without the mandate that comes with a free and fair election, Ortega’s actions cannot reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people, who continue to struggle for democracy and the ability to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The department said Taiwan’s relationships with diplomatic partners provided significant economic and security benefits to citizens of those countries.

The move would deprive Nicaragua’s people of “a steadfast partner in its democratic and economic growth,” Price said.

“We encourage all countries that value democratic institutions, transparency, the rule of law, and promoting economic prosperity for their citizens to expand engagement with Taiwan.”

Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the democratic island part of its territory and opposes any form of official diplomatic contact between Taiwan and other countries.

Nicaragua held ties with Republic of China (Taiwan) starting in 1930. But Nicaragua recognized Beijing in 1985 and then re-established ties with Taiwan again in 1990.

The current switch back to Beijing leaves Taiwan with 14 diplomatic allies, which are mainly small, developing countries. These include mainly small Pacific countries, Caribbean islands and several Central American states.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday said that putting pressure on Taiwan will not change Taiwan’s determination to uphold democracy and freedom, to reach out to the world, and to participate in international community.

Taiwan premier Su Tseng-chang charged that China had done everything possible to isolate Taiwan. At the same time, Su said, more countries with shared values of democracy and freedom saw the importance of Taiwan and showed their support.

Meanwhile Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “Taiwan remains unbowed & will continue as a force for good in the world.”

In a statement on its website, the ministry said that Taiwan will immediately halt ongoing bilateral cooperation and evacuate staffers from Nicaragua.

In 2017 and 2018, Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador broke with Taiwan in favour of China.

Countries that recently switched sides in favour of Beijing apparently hoped that a good relationship with China could lead to economic advantages.

Since current Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, Taiwan has lost eight diplomatic allies. The last two cases were Solomon Islands and Kiribati, which cut ties in September 2019.

China cut off all communication with Taiwan’s leadership in June 2016, one month after Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, took office.

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