Days after cutting formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the government of Nicaragua has received one million vaccines from the mainland Chinese government.
Government representatives returned to the Central American nation on Dec. 12 with news of the donation. State media also showed an Air China plane touching down with the first 200,000 doses of the country’s Sinopharm vaccine.
The Nicaraguan government formally cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in a statement released on Dec. 9.
Taiwan is officially called the Republic of China (ROC) — which governed the mainland prior to 1949, when it was pushed back to the island by communist armies. Though it remains a de facto independent country, it is not formally recognized by most of the world and is not a U.N. member.
Now, Taiwan’s list of diplomatic allies — most of which are Pacific or Latin American nations — has dwindled from 21 to 14 since President Tsai Ing-Wen took office in 2016.
This has been further exacerbated as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has requested that under its “One-China principle,” all countries wishing to form diplomatic relations with it must first terminate official ties with Taiwan. The PRC views Taiwan as a “rebel separatist force” that must be reclaimed by any means necessary, even if that means utilizing military force.
Officials in Nicaragua said they were “extremely grateful” for restored relations with Beijing and reiterated the PRC’s claim that: “The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”
Laureano Ortega Murillo, the son of newly elected president Daniel Ortega told reporters on Dec. 13: “We have come back with this great news that we have brought this generous donation of one million vaccines to the Nicaraguan people.”
Currently, only 38 percent of the adult population in Nicaragua is fully vaccinated but approximately 67 percent have received at least one dose.
Accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines in countries across Central and South America remains extremely difficult as scarce supplies and travel to and from mostly poor rural areas have proven to be a challenging endeavor.