Written by Taylor Metcalf, CNN
What do Nicaragua, Taiwan and Taiwan all have in common?
They all have the same new name — Taiwan; a move that officially recognized Taiwan’s independence from the mainland.
Under its new foreign policy, Taipei officially quit the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on January 9.
This move follows a trend — a trend which was begun by John Chiang, elected to Taiwan’s presidency in 2016 — which calls for political independence from mainland China.
Since Chiang took office, there has been widespread diplomatic skirmishes with China, causing Taiwanese to abandon official ties with the countries that officially recognize the communist nation.
Numerous other governments have broken ties with China over the past two years — the latest examples include Argentina, Costa Rica, Japan, New Zealand, Paraguay, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Uruguay, to name a few.
Most recently, on January 6, 2018, Taiwan formally lost its relations with Nicaragua.
The United States — which has formal diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan — has expressed “grave concern” about Beijing’s use of “threats, intimidation and coercion” against countries that remain friendly with Taiwan.
The Taiwanese move to ditch ASEAN comes at a time when relations between China and Taiwan are at a low point. On January 2, the death of former Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen created increasing political instability in the island.
While Tsai’s approval rating has plummeted since her resignation in 2016 — down to 12% — her policy on the independence of Taiwan has never been popular in Taiwan, and the unprecedented removal of a democratically elected president in this way adds fuel to the fire.
Relations between Taiwan and China are currently tense because the island has expressed interest in joining the China Pacific Alliance — a group of Southeast Asian countries who don’t recognize China’s claims in the South China Sea — further increasing Beijing’s ire.
It isn’t just Taiwan that’s been criticized for its rifts with China. In September 2017, Nicaragua was labeled a U.S. ally by CNN , after the U.S. National Security Council issued a statement calling upon the Central American country to “develop diplomatic relations with Taiwan.”
The ruling party, Ortega’s Democratic Unity Alliance, also reached out to Taiwan in an effort to “avoid this situation in the future.”