Why did Nicaragua side with China against Taiwan?

Last week, Nicaragua decided to sever diplomatic links with Taiwan and recognize the People’s Republic of China leaving the self-governing island with fewer diplomatic allies.

Nicaragua’s authoritarian President Daniel Ortega has increasingly found himself an international pariah due to the oppressive regime he heads. The United States, Canada, UK and many other countries denounced last month’s presidential polls in which Ortega was declared the winner as a “pantomime election.” Ortega who himself is a Marxist-Leninist, the reprimand by the West was a catalyst to take up an offer from Communist China against Taiwan.

In fact, after taking office for the first time in 1979, Ortega switched ties to Beijing only to be revoked after Violeta Chamorro won the 1990 election.

China has been steadily luring away Taiwan’s remaining allies by promising trade and development assistance while ignoring political controversies. Nicaragua follows a trend among Central American countries such as Panama and Costa Rica which have switched to Beijing in recent years.

China has used development aid, loans and other incentives, and other underhanded methods such as threats and bribes to win away Taiwan’s allies. China is using its massive and growing international economic and political clout to arm twist smaller countries and act according to its whims.

Though Taiwan has significant trade with many countries through its high-tech industries, it is increasingly isolated diplomatically and has no voice in most international forums. Over the course of the rivalry between China and Taiwan, some countries have changed sides multiple times, depending on which made the best offer.

However, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has promised that the Island nation will fight the diplomatic battle to its full capacity with the help of other democracies.

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