China, Nicaragua resume ties amid compelling trend, a 'heavy blow' to Taiwan secessionists and their US patrons
Published: Dec 10, 2021 08:38 AM Updated: Dec 10, 2021 09:05 PM

China's Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu (right) and Laureano Ortega, the representative of the Nicaraguan government, display a joint communiqué to resume diplomatic ties between the two countries in North China's Tianjin on December 10, 2021. Photo: Xinhua

China's Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu (right) and Laureano Ortega, the representative of the Nicaraguan government, display a joint communiqué to resume diplomatic ties between the two countries in North China's Tianjin on December 10, 2021. Photo: Xinhua

China and Nicaragua announced the resumption of diplomatic relations on Friday, 3.5 hours after the Central American country announced severing "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan island, and experts said the resumption with lightning speed not only pricked the bubble made by the US and secessionists on the island, which involved them pretending that the island was enjoying wider international recognition, but also showed the world that Nicaragua's choice aligns with the global trend.

The joint communiqué signed by the two countries on Friday shows the two governments decide to recognize each other and resume diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, effective from the date of signature of the communiqué, according to the release from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. 

"This is the right choice that is in line with the global trend and has people's support. China highly appreciates this decision. On the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence, China stands ready to work with Nicaragua on enhancing friendly cooperation in various fields to the benefit of our two countries and peoples," read the joint communiqué.

Previously, the government of Nicaragua declared it recognizes that in the world there is only one China. The People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory.

The joint communiqué was released three hours and a half after Nicaragua announced it would sever "diplomatic relations" with the island of Taiwan, which experts praised is of extraordinary speed.

China on Friday morning also held talks with Nicaragua's government delegation in North China's Tianjin.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Nicaragua's resuming relations with China is the global trend which is irresistible, after his virtual meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua Denis Moncada Colindres on Friday.

There are some countries that maintain "diplomatic relations" with the island of Taiwan due to the latter's "cash diplomacy" and pressure from the US. Wang Yi said that what the US is doing is double standards as itself has had diplomatic relations with China for more than 40 years. "What rights does it have to prevent other sovereign countries making their own choice?" Wang asked.

Wang Yi noted that it is only a matter of time for these countries to establish or resume formal relations with China. This is the trend of the time and is irresistible. 

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, praised Nicaragua's "right decision" to cut off "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan and said: "We highly commend the right decision made by the Government of Nicaragua, which is in line with the prevailing trend of the times and people's aspirations."

"The one-China principle is a consensus widely accepted by the international community and allows no challenges," Zhang tweeted. 

Given the current tense cross-Straits relations and the US' increasing hyping-up of the Taiwan question, Nicaragua's decision to sever ties with Taiwan strikes a blow to the Democratic Progressive Party's secessionist moves of seeking international recognition, Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University, told the Global Times. 

It is also a blow to the US because it is using all means, including threats and coercive measures, to help the island of Taiwan maintain "diplomatic relations," he said, noting that cutting ties with the island is the right choice that fits the international order and historical trend.

After Nicaragua made the announcement of severing ties with Taiwan, the so-called "ministry of foreign affairs" of Taiwan released a statement and said "relations" with Nicaragua ended "with immediate effect."

Nicaragua is the eighth country that the island of Taiwan has lost relations with after the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan leader in 2016. In September 2019, the Solomon Islands severed ties with Taiwan, and less than a week later, Kiribati also broke ties with it.

Chang Ya-chung, president of the Sun Yat-sen School in Taiwan and a member of the Kuomintang party, said the Taiwan public won't feel surprised about Nicaragua's decision to cut ties with Taiwan, which is also a "sooner or later" decision for other remaining countries, including Honduras. 

Also, it won't be surprising if the DPP distorts the decision as a result of mounting pressure from the Chinese mainland to echo its own secessionist agenda. 

Right choice

Together with anti-China politicians in some countries, especially Lithuania, the US and secessionists on the island of Taiwan are trying to create an illusion that the island is enjoying wider international recognition. But reality is a sharp slap in the face to them, experts said, noting that more countries with rationality will make the right choice like Nicaragua.  

Nicaragua has stood on the right side of history, Wang Jianmin said, noting that in contrast, Lithuania, encouraged by the US, made wrong and stupid choice at the sacrifice of its relations with China, and such a reckless decision would lead to more vicious results. 

After Daniel Ortega took office in Nicaragua in 2007, "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan have remained tepid. President Ortega has voiced less and less for the island of Taiwan, Li Han, assistant research fellow of the institute of Latin America studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. 

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and its economy is highly dependent on foreign assistance. In addition to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic and hurricanes, the poverty rate and unemployment rate in the country have been both surging. As the US reduced its assistance to Nicaragua, which also faces sanctions by some international organizations, Nicaragua needed to expand its economic cooperation with other countries in order to tackle its domestic economic dilemma, Li said. 

The expert noted that resumption of diplomatic relations of the two sides helps sweep political obstacles and there will be broader bilateral cooperation in the future.

The official establishment of diplomatic ties between China and El Salvador has also served as an example for other countries in Central America - El Salvador has received support from China in both vaccine and medical supplies, helping the country become one with a high inoculation rate, Li said, noting that recognizing the one-China principle is a global trend for the international community.

We welcome the few remaining so-called diplomatic allies of Taiwan to recognize the trend of the time and stand on the right side of history at an early date, China's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang said Friday.

In May 2018, the Dominican Republic also broke away from having relations with Taiwan, followed by Burkina Faso and El Salvador, which declared severing diplomatic relations with Taiwan on May 24, 2018 and August 24, 2018, respectively. 

In August, 2018, the governments of China and El Salvador signed a joint communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations. According to China's statistics, the trade volume between the two countries in 2020 reached $1.11 billion, of which El Salvador's exports to China were $172 million, an increase of 51.6 percent over the previous year.

In recent years, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have established diplomatic relations with China have significantly improved their own economies and people's livelihoods through mutually beneficial cooperation with China, which has formed an "obvious siphon effect" on Nicaragua and other countries that have not yet established diplomatic relations with China, Zhou Zhiwei, an expert on Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday. 

In the name of democracy, the US has been imposing economic sanctions and intervening in the domestic politics of Nicaragua in recent years, causing deteriorating relations between the two countries, experts said. 

There is no doubt that Latin American and Caribbean countries have to deal with American diplomatic pressure, but reality shows the failure of American hegemony: although it has a certain deterrence, it is not effective in the face of a globally recognized fact, and will not help other countries achieve their own interests, Zhou said. 

The Taiwan authorities are living in a state of worry about losing more "diplomatic relations," as the alarms of severed ties sound every once in a while. There are 14 countries left in the world that maintain "diplomatic relations" with the island of Taiwan. 

Honduran President Xiomara Castro previously said in September that she would "open diplomatic and commercial relations" with the People's Republic of China if she wins her country's local election, according to the AFP. 

Her remarks threw Taiwan authority into a panic and made the US uncomfortable. During the election, the US sent a delegation to Honduras and made it clear to both leading presidential candidates that Washington wants the country to maintain "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan. 

On whether Honduras would establish diplomatic ties with China, Li Han said there are uncertainties due to strong interference by the US. 

"But looking at the long term, Honduras has a strong willingness to develop diplomatic relations with China, so does Nicaragua, as they all need the Chinese market - the world's largest market - to provide financial and technological support," the expert said, noting that for the long run, Honduras shares a promising future in terms of developing ties with China. 

Wang Yu-Ching, a Taiwan cross-Straits observer at Peking University, told the Global Times on Friday that the severing of diplomatic ties between the island of Taiwan and Nicaragua also highlights a major failure of American diplomacy: the Biden administration has been "so concerned" about geopolitics elsewhere for so many years that the US has caught on fire in its backyard. 

He noted that it also highlights the failure of Taiwan's "dollar diplomacy."

The DPP authority thought it was a geopolitical "chess player," but it's becoming clear that they're only a "victim" of geopolitics, Wang said. 

Cutting ties with Taiwan, who's next? Editor: Jin Jianyu/GT Graphic: Xu Zihe/GT

Cutting ties with Taiwan, who's next? Editor: Jin Jianyu/GT Graphic: Xu Zihe/GT

More to come?

After Nicaragua, experts say the next country to cut "ties" with Taiwan would likely be another Latin American country. It is also possible that more "allies" of Taiwan will choose to gradually distance themselves from Taiwan's  DPP authority, which is too pro-US.

Taiwan's media says the island's "ties with Honduras and the Vatican are at risk." In addition, some scholars on the island said that Eswatini in Africa is at risk of severing ties as well. Central and South American countries such as Guatemala, Haiti and Paraguay are not solid, so it would not be a surprise that any one of these countries ends ties with Taiwan.

Chiu Yi, a former "lawmaker" in Taiwan and a Taiwan-based pro-reunification scholar, said Nicaragua's decision to sever ties with the island serves as a step forward in reaching the situation of the island having "diplomatic ties" with zero countries one day. As Chinese reunification will be eventually realized, more countries, including those in the US' geopolitical influence backyard, understand this trend more clearly.  

He also believes that Honduras will face growing pressure after Nicaragua set an example for other countries in Central America. "But if Nicaragua can resist such pressure, why not Honduras? If Honduras yields to US pressure, Castro's voters would not buy in," he said. 

Chiu said that Nicaragua's latest move will make people in Taiwan reflect on three aspects: reunification is indeed the general trend, as more countries recognize it; the reliability of the US government is questionable as it can't take care of its own backyard well and can't be expected to firmly support Taiwan; and whether it is really worth spending such large amount of money to safeguard so-called diplomatic ties with the other rest 14 countries.

Wang Yu-Ching said that Nicaragua's decision is an indicator of the total failure of the US' geopolitical strategy, which has only driven countries further away by insanely pushing them to pick sides, Wang said, warning that the DPP authority should not assume that the US is the solution for their own problems, because the US is no longer the only major power in the world.