Dec 9 (Reuters) – Nicaragua on Thursday broke its longstanding diplomatic ties with Taiwan, switching allegiance to Beijing in a recognition of the Chinese Communist party’s One China policy and reducing Taipei’s dwindling pool of international allies.
“The government of the Republic of Nicaragua today breaks diplomatic relations with Taiwan and ceases to have any contact or official relationship,” the foreign ministry said in a statement issued in Spanish and English.
“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,” it added.
Taiwan responded quickly, expressing “pain and regret” at the decision, and saying that the Central American country’s president, Daniel Ortega, had disregarded the friendship between the peoples of Taiwan and Nicaragua.
The break with Taiwan is a blow to the United States. It follows months of worsening ties between 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 White House and State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last month U.S. President Joe Biden ripped into Ortega, calling Nicaragua’s presidential election a “pantomime” as the former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War adversary of the United States won the election for a fourth consecutive term.
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.
It also follows threats by the incoming leaders of Honduras to break with Taipei. However, since the Honduran election last month, the team around incoming President Xiomara Castro has rowed back from that position somewhat.
Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom Editing by Daniel Flynn and Sam Holmes