Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen attends the inauguration of Daniel Ortega in 2017.
“The reestablishment of relations with the People’s Republic of China is the conjunction of several circumstances: a Chinese escalation in the diplomatic battle between Beijing and Taipei; the interest of the Asian giant to consolidate in Central America; and the ‘logical’ alliance of Daniel Ortega with a single-party regime.”
At the end of 2021, Nicaragua’s dictator Daniel Ortega announced that his country would recognize China after severing over 30 years of diplomatic relations with Taiwan (See “Nicaragua’s Ortega Consolidating Dictatorship with Russian and Chinese Backing,” OE Watch, 1 2022). One of the country’s oldest dailies, Confidencial, states that the diplomatic switch should be viewed through the lens of China’s escalating attempts to curtail Taiwan’s diplomatic relations; increasing Chinese interest in Central America; and an ideological alliance with Ortega, who also runs a single-party regime. The move gives China momentum in terms of developing deeper relations in the region. Panama and El Salvador have ruptured relations with Taiwan, and the election of Xiomara Castro in Honduras could see a similar maneuver in the coming months. If Castro follows through on her campaign pledge to drop Taiwan, Guatemala and Belize would remain the only two countries in Central America to recognize Taiwan, potentially tipping the geopolitical balance decisively in favor of China.
Nicaragua now counts China, Russia, and Iran among its closest allies. Another Confidencial article speculates that Ortega seeks to buffer against international isolation by recognizing China, something his existing relationships with Russia, Iran, North Korea, and others cannot provide. The outlet reports that Ortega will seek financing and export markets in China, especially in the face of international financial pressure and sanctions.
“Ortega se adelanta a Ley Renacer y suspensión del CAFTA al alinearse con China (Ortega anticipates the Renacer Law and suspension of CAFTA by aligning himself with China),” Confidencial (one of the country’s oldest dailies still operating), 18 December 2021. https://www.confidencial.com.ni/economia/ortega-se-adelanta-a-ley-renacer-y-suspension-del-cafta-al-alinearse-con-china/
In addition to challenging the United States, Ortega is also looking for options in the face of the… Renacer Law… excluding Nicaragua from the free trade agreement (CAFTA), and that Europe does the same with the Association Agreement, which would make Nicaraguan exports to both markets much more expensive.
Source: “La “afinidad” de Ortega con China es que el gigante asiático tiene “un régimen de un solo partido” (Ortega’s “affinity” with China is that the Asian giant has “a one-party regime”),” Confidencial (one of the country’s oldest dailies still operating), 16 December 2022. https://www.eltiempo.com/opinion/editorial/muerte-en-la-frontera-editorial-el-tiempo-643053
The reestablishment of relations with the People’s Republic of China is the conjunction of several circumstances: a Chinese escalation in the diplomatic battle between Beijing and Taipei; the interest of the Asian giant to consolidate in Central America; and the ‘logical’ alliance of Daniel Ortega with a single-party regime.
Image: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen attends the inauguration of Daniel Ortega in 2017.