Taiwan on Thursday vowed to take legal action against former ally Nicaragua for “seizing” its embassy and making plans to transfer it to China after the Central American country switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
According to Taiwan’s foreign ministry, the Nicaraguan government “seized” its former embassy property that was already sold to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Managua after the two severed diplomatic ties earlier this month.
China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, has stepped up pressure to isolate the island internationally and Nicaragua’s switch left Taipei with only 14 diplomatic allies globally.
It was the eighth country to ditch Taipei for Beijing since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016 as tensions between the two sides continue to grow.
Taipei condemned the government of President Daniel Ortega for its plan to transfer the property to Beijing, which has called the move “an act of justice”.
“Taiwan will pursue appropriate international legal proceedings to protect its diplomatic property and ensure that Nicaragua is held accountable for its internationally wrongful act,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It added that the seizure “is part of China’s explicit and aggressive intent to annex Taiwan, which seriously contravenes international norms and damages regional peace and stability.”
China vows to bring self-ruled Taiwan back into its fold one day, by force if necessary, and has ramped up sea and air military operations near the island in recent months.
Taiwan’s defence ministry has warned that military tensions with China were at their highest in four decades, after around 150 Chinese warplanes — a record number — breached the island’s air defence zone in October.
This year, Taiwan recorded incursions by more than 940 Chinese military aircraft, compared with some 380 incursions last year.
The Chinese defense ministry was quoted by state media People’s Daily as saying on Thursday that “the People’s Liberation Army dispatched more warplanes to routine drills near Taiwan island” without providing a figure.