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Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech in Managua, Nicaragua, in 2017. Photo: Inti Ocon/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration denounced Nicaragua on Thursday night for switching diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China.

Why it matters: China's government has for the past several years been chipping away at Taiwan's legitimacy on the world stage and attempted to further isolate Taipei by pressuring companies and other countries to stop treating the self-governing island as a sovereign nation.

  • Only 13 countries and the Vatican now recognize Taiwan, compared to 21 at the start of 2017, the New York Times notes.

Driving the news: Nicaragua's foreign ministry issued a statement Thursday declaring China as "the only legitimate government that represents all of China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory."

What they're saying: State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in an emailed statement that the Nov. 7 "sham election" win of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, "did not provide it with any mandate to remove Nicaragua from the family of American democracies."

  • Price said the move deprived Nicaragua's people of "a steadfast partner in its democratic and economic growth."
  • "Taiwan's relationships with diplomatic partners in the Western Hemisphere provide significant economic and security benefits to the citizens of those countries," he added.
"We encourage all countries that value democratic institutions, transparency, the rule of law, and promoting economic prosperity for their citizens to expand engagement with Taiwan."
— Ned Price

Meanwhile, Taiwan's government said in response it would continue to promote "pragmatic diplomacy" as it expanded its international space in its attempt to give Taipei its "due international status," per Reuters.

Go deeper: Taiwan officials invited to Biden's "Summit for Democracy"

Go deeper

Dec 6, 2021 - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

Nov 16, 2021 - World

Olympics sponsors caught between U.S. and China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies that do business in China — especially Olympics sponsors — are concerned Beijing will use the 2022 Winter Games as a loyalty test.

Why it matters: China's leaders have become adept at silencing criticism from U.S. companies that might otherwise condemn the country's human rights record — and the Chinese government has been able to host prestigious global events like the Olympics while committing rights violations with impunity.

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.