A fleet of the Taiwanese navy landed in Nicaragua on Monday in a visit that seeks to strengthen ties with Central America and the Caribbean, in retreat as China pressures the countries of the region to break diplomatic relations with the island.
The three Taiwanese vessels arrived in Puerto Corinto, in the Pacific of Nicaragua, as part of a tour of Central America and the Caribbean “to strengthen ties of friendship,” according to diplomatic and government sources.
“The objective of the visit is to give a warm greeting and increase the relationship between both countries,” Rear Admiral Kao Chia-Bin said during the welcoming ceremony in Puerto Corinto, 150 km northwest of Managua.
The members of the crew, headed by Chia-Bin, were received by the Army inspector, General Marvin Corrales, State ministers and authorities of the municipality of Corinto.
The director of the National Port Company, Virgilio Silva, on behalf of the government thanked the flotilla of Taiwan for its visit and promised that “this relationship will be strengthened diplomatically and commercially”.
The flotilla integrated by the ships Pan Shi, Pan Chao and Kuen Ming will remain three days in Nicaragua with a crew of 800 members among officers, crew and cadets.
On their cruise through the high seas before docking in Nicaragua, the ships stopped at Marshall Island and El Salvador and on Wednesday they will continue their journey to Honduras, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, countries with which Taiwan has relations.
Taiwan gradually loses ground while China, which considers it a rebel province that will once again be under the control of Beijing, calls for breaking relations with Taipei.
Half of the countries that still have bilateral relations with the island are in Latin America and the Caribbean, although they lose influence little by little in the area.
Panama closed relations with Taiwan to open with China in June 2017, while Costa Rica did the same in 2007.
– Military training –
The crew will participate in training exchange activities with their counterparts in the Army of Nicaragua. The exercises are intended to train the members of the naval military academy of Taiwan, according to the diplomatic mission in Managua.
During the welcome ceremony held at the port terminal, the Taiwanese cadets demonstrated their military skills, an honour guard march, as well as a Taekwondo exhibition.
The Nicaraguan population may visit the interior of the ships the time they remain in the country. This is the sixth time that the naval force sends a flotilla of “Friendship” to Nicaragua.