In a decision that has political alarm bells going off in two hemispheres, Nicaragua recently ended its diplomatic relations with Taiwan and opened formal diplomatic relations with China.
U.S. officials are also concerned Honduras could do the same, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. official it did not name.
Nicaragua’s action by President Daniel Ortega came after long-running tensions with the Biden administration that erupted into new sanctions placed on Nicaragua after November elections in which Ortega won a fourth term.
The U.S. official told Reuters, Ortega was trying to support his “authoritarian regime.”
“They have felt that pressure and perhaps need the PRC support, or think they need the PRC support, for their way forward as they hunker down in a more authoritarian posture,” Reuters quoted the official as saying, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
The United States criticized Nicaragua’s abandonment of Taiwan.
“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,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
“We do know, however, that this deprives Nicaragua’s people of a steadfast partner in its democratic and economic growth,” he explained.
Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, praised Nicaragua and reminded the world that China sees Taiwan as rightfully its territory.
“The One-China principle is a consensus widely accepted by the international community and allows no challenge,” Zhang said.
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and its foreign ministry deplored the change.
Earlier today, #Nicaragua ended diplomatic ties with #Taiwan. I would like to stress that no amount of external pressure can shake our commitment to freedom, human rights, the rule of law & to partnering with the international democratic community as a force for good.
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) December 10, 2021
“Taiwan deeply regrets that the Ortega government has decided to disregard the long-standing and close friendship between the people of Taiwan and Nicaragua,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday, according to The Hill.
In its reporting, The New York Times said only 13 counties and the Vatican recognize Taiwan. The article indicated Panama, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, and Nicaragua have abandoned Taiwan over the past four years.
The Chinese government is aggressively campaigning to undermine the Taiwanese people’s right to self-determination. I continue to support Taiwan and oppose the CCP’s influence campaigns.https://t.co/uaYmEv7not
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) December 10, 2021
Earlier this year, incoming Honduran politician Xiomara Castro talked of opening formal ties with China once she takes office in January. After her election, her transition team has softened that plan.
“I think we can surge resources there, and some of that will be through development resources,” the U.S. official who spoke to Reuters said.
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