WASHINGTON: The US State Department called on “all countries that value democratic institutions” to “expand engagement with Taiwan” in a statement after Nicaragua announced it was cutting diplomatic relations with the island in favor of China.
As per the statement, the move by President Daniel Ortega “cannot reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people” due to the Central American country’s recent presidential election being a “sham.”
“This deprives the people of Nicaragua of a steadfast partner in its democratic and economic growth,” the department said in a statement.
Nicaragua’s diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China leaves the island with just 14 diplomatic allies but comes as Taipei strengthens ties with multiple unofficial Western friends, including the United States.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington have soared over the fate of democratic self-ruled Taiwan, which China has allegedly vowed to one day retake, by force if necessary.
At the same time, the United States has slammed Nicaragua’s November elections that saw long-time leader Ortega re-elected as illegitimate, slapping sanctions on the federal public prosecutor’s office and nine officials in response.
In the months ahead of the November 7 election, Nicaraguan authorities detained nearly 40 opposition figures, including seven would-be presidential challengers, virtually assuring victory for Ortega and the vice president, his wife Rosario Murillo.
“The Ortega-Murillo regime has announced it has severed diplomatic relations and ended official contact with Taiwan, but the sham election on November 7 did not provide it with any mandate to remove Nicaragua from the family of American democracies,” the State Department statement said Thursday.
“We encourage all countries that value democratic institutions, transparency, the rule of law, and promote economic prosperity for their citizens to expand engagement with Taiwan,” the statement said.
China has allegedly spent decades successfully encouraging Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to “switch sides”, including three others in Latin America in recent years – Panama, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.