It came as a shock to Guatemalan exporters: according to media reports, China had recently banned the import of Guatemalan coffee and other goods.

There was no official explanation. Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo, however, presumed there was a connection to his country’s ties with Taiwan. “We will take care of it,” Arevalo said.

Apart from Paraguay, Guatemala is now the only Latin American country with diplomatic ties to Taiwan. Beijing regards the island nation as part of the People’s Republic of China. In recent years, Honduras and Nicaragua changed sides, turning their backs on Taiwan and seeking rapprochement with Beijing.

Several small conflicts in Latin America

The blockade of Guatemalan goods is one of several minor conflicts beginning to overshadow China’s course in Latin America, which has long been oriented toward growth and expansion.