Beijing targeted Taipei's allies while US hosted democracy summit: Taiwan foreign minister

Nicaragua broke its longstanding diplomatic ties with Taiwan last week, switching allegiance to Beijing. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Nicaragua's decision last week to cut ties with Taiwan was part of a deliberate move by China to target the island's diplomatic allies after it was excluded from a democracy summit hosted by Washington, Taiwan's foreign minister said on Tuesday (Dec 14).

Nicaragua broke its longstanding diplomatic ties with Taiwan last week, switching allegiance to Beijing in a recognition of the Communist Party of China's one-China policy and reducing Taipei's dwindling pool of international allies.

"When democratic countries were holding a democratic summit, China was excluded, China was a target, so China chose this opportunity to set about targeting our diplomatic allies," said Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on the sidelines of a forum on regional security.

Digital Minister Audrey Tang and Taiwan's de facto ambassador to Washington, Ms Hsiao Bi-khim, represented the island at the Biden administration's Summit for Democracy last week.

China was not on the US State Department's invited participants list.

"Losing a diplomatic ally is a very painful thing for us," Mr Wu told reporters.

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the island would not bend to pressure or change its determination to uphold democracy and freedom.

"The more successful Taiwan's democracy is, the stronger the international support, and the greater the pressure from the authoritarian camp," she said in Taipei.

The move by China and Nicaragua to re-establish diplomatic ties will likely boost Beijing's influence in a part of the world long considered the United States' backyard, angering Washington.

Nicaragua first cut ties with Taiwan in 1985, but they were re-established with the island in 1990.

Mr Wu said all of his colleagues in the Foreign Ministry "put forth their greatest efforts to maintain these diplomatic ties".

Nicaragua's move to cut ties with Taiwan leaves the island with just 14 formal diplomatic allies, most of them in Latin America and the Caribbean, plus a handful of small states.

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