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China officially reopens its embassy in Managua, Nicaragua, on December 31. Photo: Xinhua

China reopens embassy in Nicaragua after Ortega government cuts Taiwan ties

  • Switch in recognition marks political win for Beijing and leaves Taipei with just 14 diplomatic allies
  • Then Nicaraguan president Violeta Chamorro decided to recognise Taiwan in 1990
China has reopened its embassy in Nicaragua, a few weeks after the Central American country switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

That change was a political win for Beijing, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has stepped up pressure to isolate the self-ruled island on the international stage.

The announcement from Nicaragua three weeks ago has left Taiwan with just 14 diplomatic allies, even as Taipei strengthens ties with multiple unofficial Western friends, including the United States.

Taiwan blasts Nicaragua for giving its assets to Beijing after cutting ties

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, speaking at a ceremony marking the reopening of the embassy on Friday, said: “You are welcome in our Nicaragua … with the certainty that both countries have ahead of us a future of successes and victories in our brotherly relations.”

The new Chinese embassy will be under the orders of Yu Bu, who inaugurated it alongside Moncada and other officials including Laureano Ortega, son of and adviser to President Daniel Ortega.

China has spent decades encouraging Taiwan’s dwindling diplomatic allies to switch sides, achieving success with three others in Latin America in recent years – Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
Laureano Ortega and Chinese foreign vice-minister Ma Zhaoxu in Tianjin on December 10. Photo: Xinhua via AP

On December 9, the Ortega administration announced that Nicaragua was following suit.

“The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory,” Moncada said at the time.

A firebrand Marxist in his youth, Ortega ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990. He previously changed recognition to China in 1985 but a successor, Violeta Chamorro, switched it back five years later.

The restoration of ties with China comes as the United States and the European Union intensify sanctions against Nicaragua.

Ortega won a fourth term in office in November in elections in which his main rivals were in jail.