Nicaragua and China have taken steps to enhance their bilateral relations, signaling Beijing's commitment to providing increased economic support to Nicaragua, which is facing sanctions from Western countries. This move also underscores China's strategic interests in the Central American region, which is considered the United States' sphere of influence.
China and Nicaragua re-established diplomatic ties in 2021 when Nicaragua terminated its relations with Taiwan, a move that drew attention due to its potential for increased investment from China after Western nations-imposed sanctions on President Daniel Ortega's government for alleged human rights violations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his willingness to work closely with President Ortega to advance the China-Nicaragua strategic partnership. During a call marking the second anniversary of the diplomatic relationship's resumption, Xi emphasized the goal of building a model of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual benefit between the two countries. He announced that the China-Nicaragua Free Trade Agreement would come into effect on January 1.
China, as the world's second-largest economy, has already become a significant investor in Central and Latin America. Its extended financial support to Nicaragua comes at a crucial time, with the United States intensifying economic pressure on Ortega's administration.
Xi also noted China's commitment to strengthening solidarity and cooperation with Nicaragua in international affairs, particularly in opposing hegemony and power politics.
In addition to Western sanctions, Nicaragua faces sanctions from Canada, the United Kingdom, and European states. A United Nations Human Rights Council report in March accused the Nicaraguan government of widespread and systematic human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity.
In 2018, Ortega's government cracked down on anti-government protests, which it had declared illegal, leading to the imprisonment of numerous opposition figures accused of attempting a coup. Human rights organizations have decried these actions as a slide towards dictatorship.
China's foreign ministry has expressed strong support for Nicaragua's domestic political agenda and firmly opposes external interference in Nicaragua's internal affairs.
Nicaragua has reiterated its commitment to refraining from engaging in any official exchanges with Taiwan.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry criticized Nicaragua's decision to switch allegiance to China, accusing President Ortega of aligning with China for personal gain and complicity in China's undermining of democracy and peace.
Nicaragua holds strategic significance for China due to its proximity to the United States. Beijing has been steadily expanding its diplomatic outreach in the region, recently establishing diplomatic relations with neighboring Honduras in May and providing support to diplomatically isolated Cuba and Venezuela.
President Xi Jinping affirmed China's commitment to being a reliable friend of Nicaragua and supporting the country in safeguarding its national independence and dignity while opposing foreign interference.
The deepening ties between Nicaragua and China will undoubtedly have implications for the geopolitical landscape in the region and beyond. International observers will closely monitor developments in this evolving relationship.