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Nicaragua - China Relations

Nicaragua broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognised there is only one China 09 December 2021. This news brought Taiwan's diplomatic relations to 14 states, most of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean, plus a few small countries. The PRC convinced Panama to break with Taiwan in June 2017, followed by the Dominican Republic in May 2018, and El Salvador in August 2018. Under the previous KMT government of President Ma Ying-jeou from 2008-2016, the PRC and ROC informally suspended their competition for diplomatic recognition.

Nicaragua’s decision on the 9th was the second time that the country severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan. There was a 36-year interval between the two severances, but both were decisions made when the current President Ortega was in office. After the Sandanistas were voted out of office in 1990, various Asian countries expressed interest in new relations with Nicaragua. Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) principally investigated investment possibilities, although Japan also looked into the prospect of building a new transisthmian canal across Nicaragua. Taiwan, which in 1990 had a political interest in reestablishing the diplomatic relations that the Sandinistas had broken in reaching out to China, offered not only substantial investments but also low-interest loans. However, Taiwanese plans to construct a sawmill and to manufacture plywood and veneers in the northeast to ship to United States and European markets ran afoul of Nicaraguan environmentalists. Nicaragua re-established relations with Taiwan in 1995, five years after Violetta Chamorro came to power. Many expected Ortega to revert to recognizing the PRC when he returned to power in 2007.

"The government of the Republic of Nicaragua declares that it recognises there is only one China existing in the world," Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada said on 09 December 2021 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," the statement added. "The government of the Republic of Nicaragua ceases to have any contact or official relationship [with Taiwan]," it added.

China and Nicaragua signed 10 December 2021 in Tianjin the joint communique on the resumption of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Nicaragua. The two governments agree to develop friendly relations based on the principles of mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence, the communique said. China appreciates Nicaragua's decision, which aligns with global trends and has people's support, a spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Noting that Nicaragua is an important country in Central America, the spokesperson said China stands ready to work with the country on enhancing friendly cooperation in various fields to benefit the two countries and peoples.

The authoritarian President of Nicaragua, Ortega is increasingly isolated by the international community. The United States has condemned the election of Nicaragua on November 7 as a "scam election," which may prompt Ortega to fall to mainland China. The Marxist-Leninist Ortega still maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan after he came to power for the second time in 2006, which surprised many people. After taking office for the first time in 1979, he broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with Lu. It was only after the Chamorro government came to power in 1990 that diplomatic relations with Taiwan were restored.

Taiwan's severance of diplomatic ties continues the trend of Central American countries turning to the mainland in recent years. In addition to providing incentives such as development assistance and loans, critics say that it also uses secret methods such as threats and bribery to lure countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but there is no relevant evidence. The biggest incentive is that the mainland has huge economic and political influence, which can benefit countries with diplomatic relations.

Taiwan Foreign Ministry in a statement expressed "pain and regret" at the ending of diplomatic ties with Nicaragua. Taipei said it has always been a loyal and reliable friend of Managua and Nicaragua's president has disregarded the friendship between the people of the two nations. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and awaits reunification, by force if needed. Beijing has spent decades successfully encouraging Taiwan's diplomatic allies to switch sides, including three others in Latin America in recent years –– Panama, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Taiwan had always been a loyal and reliable friend of Nicaragua. It has been working with the country to promote cooperation that is beneficial to the people’s livelihood and assisting the overall development of Nicaragua. The results and contributions are obvious to all. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that Nicaraguan President José Daniel Ortega Saavedra “disregards the friendship between the people of Taiwan and Nicaragua for many years.” Taiwan regrets this.

The Taiwan MAC also issued a press release strongly condemning the Chinese mainland. The MAC said that the Chinese Communist Party maliciously seized countries with diplomatic relations with money and interests, brutally suppressed Taiwan's international exchanges and living space, and undermined the foundation of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. In response to repeated malicious provocations on the other side, the government will firmly defend national sovereignty, dignity, democracy and freedom, and Taiwan will not succumb to compromise.

The MAC pointed out that Beijing has used the fallacy of the "one China principle" to increase diplomatic and military repression and economic coercion against Taiwan to force Taiwan to submit to its erroneous political propositions. This also reflects that it is facing the dilemma of internal and external governance and is taking this bad behavior to divert. Focusing on and cracking down on the misjudgment of democratic Taiwan’s decision-making is bound to face serious backlash consequences. The MAC emphasized that the Beijing authorities are the saboteurs of cross-strait relations and regional security and must immediately stop provocative and foolish actions. The Republic of China is a sovereign country, and Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic of China. The people of Taiwan will only be more united and will never accept any of its unruly propositions.

While Latin America has been an area of U.S. influence since 1823 with the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine, the region has always been an afterthought by U.S. foreign policymakers. Latin America, as J. D. Gordon stated, “has largely remained a policy backwater for the United States, with America manifesting little by way of strategy toward the region, when it in fact noticed it at all.” By neglecting Latin America, the United States has opened a door for external powers to fill the political vacuum left by the U.S., particularly antagonistic nations to U.S. hegemony in the region, such as Iran, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The Chinese presence in the Western Hemisphere presented a new alignment of governments that have nurtured an anti-American foreign policy sentiment, such as Nicaragua. In fact, China has entered into bilateral agreements with Nicaragua, which while economically tied to the U.S. market, has taken a more confrontational position vis-à-vis the United States, thanks to the new foreign policy alignment with the PRC.

China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Nicaragua are trying to destabilize democracies in the area and are spreading disinformation and engaging in criminal activities. In Nicaragua, China was not so active apart from the Canal because Taiwan had been supporting more the Government of Nicaragua. Taiwan had been a major provider of support to Nicaragua. The Chinese had been acting in Nicaragua, but not as active as in Venezuela. Ortega had continued to pursue deeper relations with China through the Inter-Oceanic Canal Project, even though there appeared to be limited progress on this canal and tremendous public opposition to this construction, Ortega had given the Hong Kong-based company HKND enormous discretion in building and operating the canal.

With authoritarian government, weak public institutions, and impoverished citizenry, Nicaragua’s telecom system is dependent on upgrades through foreign investment, primarily from Russia and China. World Bank funded national fiber broadband network links to Caribbean submarine cables. Chinese-financed projects include airport, oil pipeline, and roads in process. Nearly all installed telecom capacity now uses financed digital technology.

Nicaragua on 10 January 2017 said it wanted to secure bigger international recognition for Taiwan during a visit by President Tsai Ing-wen at a moment of Chinese suspicions the leader of the self-ruled island is seeking formal independence from China. Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega welcomed his Taiwanese counterpart on a visit that follows complaints by Beijing about the attitude of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump who has questioned the United States' commitment to China's position that Taiwan is part of one China. State media in Nicaragua, which is seeking Chinese investment for a massive canal to compete with Panama's waterway, said Ortega would continue backing Taiwan.

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