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Saturday, July 13, 2024

China’s Influence Grows as Nicaragua Acts

In a move reflecting the ongoing geopolitical shifts in Central America, the Nicaraguan government on Wednesday ordered the closure of four associations with ties to Taiwan, intensifying its alignment with China. The decision comes two years after Nicaragua severed its diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of Beijing.

The affected entities include the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Nicaragua and the Taiwanese-Nicaraguan Business Chamber. The Interior Ministry declared that all assets belonging to these associations would be transferred to state control. The government’s justification for this significant action was the alleged failure of these groups to submit their required financial statements under nonprofit law regulations, as stated in a notice published in the government gazette.

This development is part of a broader pattern since Managua reestablished diplomatic ties with Beijing in 2021. Since then, Nicaragua and China have forged stronger economic links, including a significant $430 million loan agreement for the construction of an international airport and a liquefied gas terminal in Nicaragua. Additionally, the two nations signed a free trade agreement last year, further cementing their economic partnership.

Beijing’s policy toward Taiwan has been a driving force in these diplomatic changes. The Chinese government views Taiwan as part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force for unification. In the Central American context, only Guatemala and Belize continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Honduras was the most recent nation to shift its allegiance to China, doing so in March of the previous year.

The closure of these associations is also part of Nicaragua’s broader crackdown on NGOs, with approximately 3,500 organizations being shut down since 2018. This crackdown intensified following anti-government protests in 2018, which resulted in over 200 deaths during clashes with armed forces. The Nicaraguan government, perceiving these protests as part of an attempted coup allegedly backed by Washington, has tightened regulations governing non-profits, accusing some of being involved in these destabilization efforts.

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