Nicaragua Severs Ties with Taiwan
Nicaragua ended official diplomatic relations with Taiwan in December, stating that it “recognizes that there is only one single China.” It was the eighth country to sever ties with Taiwan since 2016, leaving the island with only 14 diplomatic partners.
The break in relations comes as the U.S. and countries in Europe are growing increasingly critical of Beijing over issues such as human rights and have been expanding political, economic, and military support to Taiwan. Nicaragua previously cut ties with Taiwan in 1985 before reestablishing them in 1990.
Before closing its embassy, Taiwan’s mission donated its assets in Nicaragua – including the embassy building – to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Managua. However, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega reportedly ordered that the property be transferred to Beijing, threatening to imprison anyone attempting to reclaim the assets.
In late January, Vice President William Lai visited Honduras, one of Taiwan’s few remaining formal diplomatic allies in Latin America, to attend the inauguration of its recently elected president, Xiomara Castro. During her election campaign, Castro had also floated the idea of ending ties with Taiwan.
Taiwan, Canada to Hold Investment Talks
Taiwan and Canada agreed to initiate discussions on an investment protection agreement, the two governments said on January 10. During a virtual meeting, Taiwan’s top trade negotiator, Minister Without Portfolio John Deng, and Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng agreed to begin “exploratory discussions” regarding a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Arrangement (FIPA), according to Taiwan’s Executive Yuan. Ng said in a statement that “Taiwan is a key trade and investment partner as Canada broadens its trade links and deepens its economic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Although Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization, it has signed free trade agreements only with Singapore and New Zealand. Both Taiwan and China have applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Canada is a member. The meeting between Deng and Ng could thus elicit the ire of China, which has recently increased efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally.
Slovenia to Establish Taiwan Rep Office
During an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan in January, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa revealed plans for the central European nation to establish a representative office in Taiwan. Jansa noted that Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives” on the same level as many other EU members.
Emphasizing Slovenia’s robust relations with Taiwan, Jansa added that he personally contacted Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung after observing Taiwan’s disease prevention measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou welcomed the Slovenian government’s plan, noting that “Prime Minister Jansa is a good friend of Taiwan” and that the government would continue to deepen relations with Slovenia.
Differing Views in New Year Addresses
During his nationally televised New Year address, Chinese President Xi Jinping restated hope for reunification with Taiwan, emphasizing the “one country, two systems” policy governing Hong Kong and Macao and calling for concerted efforts to bring about its long-term success. “The complete reunification of our motherland is an aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Xi said in his address.
Meanwhile, President Tsai’s New Year address reiterated that Taiwan would not bow to Chinese pressure, referring to the recent military intrusions of Chinese military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
“The use of military means is absolutely not an option to resolve the differences between our two sides,” said Tsai. “Only by upholding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, with each side working to take care of people’s livelihoods and put their minds at ease, can there be proper space and atmosphere for our two sides to peacefully and collectively address and seek solutions to the problems we face.”
Five Convicted in Vote-Buying Scheme
Five Taiwanese businesspeople living and working in China were found guilty in January of taking money from Chinese authorities in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, to buy votes for KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu in the 2020 presidential election. The defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 20 to 46 months.
An investigation by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office found that Huang Daonian, director of the Economic Bureau at Changsha’s Taiwan Affairs Office, contributed money to fund the vote-buying scheme. The defendants then organized banquets to convince Taiwanese citizens in Hunan Province to support the KMT and Han’s presidential campaign in late 2019. Attendees were offered reimbursement of the airfare if they returned to Taiwan to vote for Han. After learning of the verdicts, Han’s office stated that he was unaware of the events and that his election campaign headquarters did not receive any funds from the convicted parties.