Nicaragua is shifting diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, in a move that reduces the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to 14 nations and underscores Beijing’s growing campaign to isolate the country.
Nicaragua said on Thursday it would sever its long-standing diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognize the Beijing government as the sole seat of power in China. The move follows a recent separate promise from Xiomara Castro, the incoming president of Honduras, to shift recognition to Beijing.
“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 Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry said in a statement cited by Reuters.
China is putting increasing economic and other pressure on the remaining countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a country off the coast of mainland China over which Beijing claims sovereignty.
Beijing is trying to squeeze Lithuania economically, which this year allowed Taiwan to open a representative office, a de facto embassy, in the capital Vilnius.
The White House and the State Department had no immediate comment.
Nicaragua’s change comes as Taiwan also comes under increasing direct pressure from Beijing. This year, the Chinese military has sent fighter jets and bombers to Taiwan’s “air defense identification zone,” a security buffer zone, with increasing frequency and in greater numbers.
Last month, President Joe Biden discussed Taiwan with Xi Jinping in a virtual meeting. The Chinese leader warned Biden that any nation that supported or allowed Taiwan independence would be “playing with fire.”
The United States maintains a “one China” policy according to which it recognizes Beijing as the sole seat of power in China. But the Biden administration has taken a series of steps to increase unofficial engagements between countries, prompting angry responses from the Beijing government.