Nicaragua breaks with Taiwan and establishes diplomatic relations with China
The Central American country is the eighth diplomatic ally taken from the island in the past five years. Taiwan now has full formal relations with only 14 states, including the Vatican. Honduras is at risk. Beijing wants to reduce Taipei's international room, while the United States is trying to widen it.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – Nicaragua broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan yesterday and established them with China.
Beijing has thus taken another diplomatic ally from the island, this on the day US President Joe Biden opened the Democracy Summit, where China won’t be present while Taiwan will.
In a televised announcement, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada said that Managua will cut off any official contact or relationship with Taipei.
“The People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory," Moncada said in a statement.
According to several observers, the new US sanctions against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian government prompted Nicaragua to seek help and support from China.
While condemning the move, the Taiwanese government explained today that for now the free trade agreement with Nicaragua remained in force since the Central American country has not notified Taiwan of its withdrawal.
The Chinese government does not have formal diplomatic relations with states if they recognise Taiwan as a state.
With the loss of Nicaragua, Taiwan now has full diplomatic ties with only 14 states, including the Vatican. However, some reports indicate that Beijing is leaning on the Holy See as well.
Since the election of incumbent Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, China has taken eight diplomatic partners from the island: Burkina Faso, Panama, São Tomé and Príncipe, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Nicaragua.
For Chinese leaders, Tsai is a dangerous secessionist. China considers Taiwan a "rebel province,” and has not ruled out taking the island by force.
The island has been de facto independent since 1949; at the time, Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists found refuge on the island after losing the civil war on the mainland against the Communists, making Taiwan the heir to the Republic of China founded in 1912.
China’s strategy is to reduce Taiwan's international leeway bit by bit. Prior to her electoral victory on November 28, Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro declared her willingness to break with Taipei to embrace Beijing, a step that seems to be on hold for now.
For its part, the United States wants to strengthen Taiwan's global profile in order to create international consensus against a possible Chinese takeover.
Despite Chinese protests, Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang is in fact attending Biden’s Democracy Summit.
Washington has formal diplomatic ties with Beijing, but does not accept the Chinese claim that Taiwan is part of China.
With the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States promised to defend Taipei, mainly with military supplies.
Adopted in 1979 after the formal diplomatic recognition of Communist China, the law does not specify the actual nature of the US commitment. Such “strategic ambiguity” is a constant source of tensions with the Chinese government.
Recently, EU member states such as Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also boosted relations with Taipei.
Due to its overtures towards Taiwan, Lithuania has been subjected to a trade boycott by China, which has led the European Union to threaten to bring the case to the World Trade Organisation.