Honduras will seek ties with China, spurning Taiwan

Honduras’ President Xiomara Castro

Honduras President Xiomara Castro announced yesterday [Macau time] that her government will seek to establish diplomatic relations with China, which would imply severing relations with Taiwan. The switch would leave Taiwan recognized by only 13 countries.

Castro said on her Twitter account that she instructed Honduran Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Reina to start negotiations with China and that her intention is “expand frontiers freely in concert with the nations of the world.”

Castro said during her presidential campaign in 2021 that she would look for ties with China if elected, but once in power, her government backtracked on those comments. In January 2022, the foreign affairs minister told The Associated Press that Honduras would continue strengthening ties with Taiwan and that establishing a diplomatic relationship with China was not a priority for Castro.

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had “expressed serious concerns to the Honduran government. Our country has made it clear to Honduras many times that Taiwan is a sincere and reliable cooperative partner to our allies. Honduras is requested to consider carefully and not fall into China’s trap or make wrong decisions that damage the long-term friendship between Taiwan and Honduras.”

Taiwanese media reported that the Foreign Ministry had summoned Honduras’ Ambassador Harold Burgos for discussions. Burgos told reporters he is currently awaiting orders from his government.

At a daily briefing this week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing welcomed the statement from Honduras.

“The fact that 181 countries in the world have established diplomatic relations with China on the basis of the one-China principle fully proves that establishing diplomatic relations with China is a correct choice in line with the general trend of historical development and the trend of the times,” Wang said.

China claims self-ruled, democratic Taiwan is part of its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary, and refuses most contacts with countries that maintain formal ties with Taiwan, and threatens retaliation against countries merely for increasing contacts.

China expelled Lithuania’s ambassador, downgraded diplomatic ties and blocked trade with the Baltic country of 2.7 million people after it boosted relations with Taipei in October 2021. Lithuania has since closed its embassy in Beijing and opened a trade office in Taiwan.

China is building a massive dam in Honduras. 

China’s multi-billion dollar “Belt and Road” initiative has also offered developing nations ports, railways, power plants and other infrastructure, funded by loans provided at market rates.

The loss of Honduras would leave Taiwan with formal diplomatic ties just 13 sovereign states, including Vatican City. In Latin America, it also has relations with Belize and Paraguay, with most of its remaining partners being small, poor island nations in the Caribbean and South Pacific.

Taiwan’s sole remaining African ally is Eswanti, formerly known as Swaziland, whose Prime Minister Cleopas Sipho Dlamini visited Taiwan this month and expressed support for the island’s re-admission to the United Nations and its agencies.

Taiwan retains informal ties with more than 100 other countries. MDT/AP

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