The government of Nicaragua announced Thursday that it has terminated “diplomatic relations” with Taiwan and ceased to have “any contact or official relationship,” declaring that it recognizes “there is only one single China” in the world.
“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,” Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colindres said in a statement.
In response, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it “deeply regrets” the Nicaraguan decision to “disregard the long-standing and close friendship” between the two nations, and that their diplomatic relations will be ended “with immediate effect”.
Taiwan would also halt all bilateral cooperation projects and aid programs, and recall staff of its embassy and technical mission in Nicaragua.
“As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan has the right to conduct exchanges and develop diplomatic relations with other nations,” the ministry said in a statement.
It stated that Taiwan will continue to promote “steadfast diplomacy” to expand its international participation, and that it “will spare no effort” to ensure its rightful status in the international community.
Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, although Beijing considers the democratically ruled island to be part of its territory, and has threatened to bring the island under its control by force if necessary. China has ramped up military flights near Taiwan, sending more than 200 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in October.
Nicaragua’s break with Taiwan is a blow to the United States. It follows months of worsening ties between Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Washington and came on the day the U.S. State Department said it had slapped sanctions on Nestor Moncada Lau, a national security adviser to Ortega, alleging he operates an import and customs fraud scheme to enrich members of Ortega’s government.
The U.S. State Department said Ortega’s decision to break relations with Taiwan did not reflect “the will of the Nicaraguan people” due to the nation’s recent election being a “sham,” which was unfairly elected.
“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 in a statement.
“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,” the State Department added.
Last month, the United States imposed sanctions against the Nicaraguan Public Ministry and nine Nicaraguan government officials, after reports of potential opposition presidential candidates and dissidents being detained months ahead of the election in Nicaragua.
U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) in a Twitter post called for the United States to “stand firm” with Taiwan, describing Nicaragua’s move to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan as “incredibly troubling.”
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) also expressed his support for Taiwan and accused Beijing of “aggressively campaigning” to undermine Taiwan.
“The Chinese government is aggressively campaigning to undermine Taiwanese people’s right to self-determination. I continue to support Taiwan and oppose the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party] influence campaigns,” Buck said on Twitter.
Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) said on Twitter that Ortega’s decision to cut ties with Taiwan “will only make life worse for the people of Nicaragua,” calling for President Joe Biden to “lead by example and recognize Taiwan.”
Nicaragua’s move leaves Taiwan with just 14 formal diplomatic allies, most of them in Latin America and the Caribbean, plus a handful of small states including the Vatican. Before Nicaragua, Taiwan lost two allies in quick succession in September of 2019, when the Solomon Islands and Kiribati went over to Beijing.
Reuters contributed to this report.