At a ceremony that marked the reopening of the Chinese embassy in Nicaragua, Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister stated: “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.”
December 10, 2021, marks the day when China and Nicaragua reestablished diplomatic relations after 1990. This diplomatic flip occurred when ties with Taiwan were ended, marking Nicaragua to be the 8th country that Taiwan lost diplomatic relations with.
The foreign Minister of China stated that: “In the communique, the government of Republic of Nicaragua recognizes that there is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. The Republic of Nicaragua shall sever “diplomatic relations” with Taiwan as of this day, and undertakes that it shall no longer develop any official relations or official exchanges with Taiwan”
Both China and Nicaragua adhere to the principle of independence. In 1985, when Nicaragua established diplomatic relations with China formally for the first time, Peking vowed to support Managua’s ”just struggle to safeguard national independence.” It wasn’t long, however, before the bilateral relations ended.
This diplomatic flip of 2021 is like a coin with two sides. One side of the coin reflects the great significance and opportunities behind these relations, and the other side shows worrisome realities. In light of significance, Nicaragua made the right choice keeping in view the current trends, international relations, and most importantly its national interests.
According to Yang Jianmin, an expert on Latin American Studies, the re-establishing of relations between the two countries will broaden future cooperation. Nicaragua’s recognition of the “One China” policy and the resumption of diplomatic relations with China for the first time since the beginning of the neoliberal period in 1990 marks a historic restoration of Sino-Nicaraguan relations.
The One China policy is a historical as well as a legal fact whereby China claims that Taiwan is one of its provinces. Moreover, it is a consensus of the international community and a basic norm in International relations as 181 countries around the world have established diplomatic relations with China.
The decision serves the national interests of both China and Nicaragua because according to Bismarck Sierro, an eminent sociologist at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, the restoration of relations will encourage Nicaraguan manufacturers to export to China’s huge market and promote bilateral cooperation in culture, education, and other areas.
The establishment of diplomatic relations with China will bring unprecedented developmental opportunities for 6.5mn people in Nicaragua where 50% of the population live below the poverty line. For Nicaragua, tourism is the second largest industry where Latin American countries stand to benefit from the prospect of more Chinese tourists hence promoting tourism through this diplomatic flip.
When we talk about the opportunities, it is likely that Ortega and numerous businesses will travel to China to sign a series of non-transparent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will probably include references to the expedited approval of phytosanitary agreements. In the sphere of education, Chinese and Nicaraguan officials will likely announce a new Confucius Institute in Managua, along with Hanban scholarships for well-connected Nicaraguan students.
Moreover, it is likely that the non-transparent MOU will open the way for significant infrastructure projects in sectors from ports and highways to electricity, designed by Chinese companies, built by Chinese laborers, and funded by Chinese policy bank loans. On the other hand, breaking ties with Taiwan and reestablishing relations with China is a blow to the United States. The U.S. State Department has stated that the decision didn’t reflect the will of the people of Nicaragua because the government wasn’t freely elected.
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