Taiwan loses diplomatic ally Nicaragua to China

Taiwan lost Nicaragua as a diplomatic ally after the Central American country said it would officially recognize only China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory.

“There is only one China,” the Nicaraguan government said in a statement Thursday announcing the change. “The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”

“As of today, Nicaragua breaks its diplomatic relations with Taiwan and ceases to have any official contact or relationship,” it added.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “sadness and regret” and said it would immediately recall its diplomatic staff. The move leaves Taiwan with 14 countries globally that officially recognize it.

China has been poaching Taiwan’s diplomatic allies over the past few years, cutting down the number of countries that recognize the democratic, self-governed island as a sovereign nation. China is against Taiwan representing itself in global forums or in diplomacy.

The Nicaraguan government signed an official communique to re-establish diplomatic ties with China in Tianjin on Friday, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. Under the agreement, Nicaragua promises not to have any official contact with Taiwan going forward.

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

“We won yet another beautiful battle,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian wrote on his personal Weibo account, while sharing a video of Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colindres reading the statement saying that Taiwan is an “inalienable” part of China.

Zhao called the change part of “an irresistible trend.”

Nicaragua established diplomatic relations with Taiwan in the 1990s, when President Violeta Chamorro assumed power after defeating Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista regime at the polls. Ortega, who has just been re-elected for a fourth consecutive presidential term since returning to power in 2007, had maintained close ties with Taipei until now.

“Long-standing friendship & successful cooperation benefiting the people of both countries were disregarded by the Ortega government,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on Twitter. “Taiwan remains unbowed & will continue as a force for good in the world.”

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