HONDURAS: Honduras is taking measures to start official diplomatic relations with China, President Xiomara Castro declared on Tuesday, a pivot that would sever ties with Taiwan.
In a tweet, President Castro said, “I have authorised Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina to supervise the inauguration of diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China as a sign of my determination to comply with the government plan and spread the boundaries freely in conjunction with the nations of the world.”
China rejects maintaining diplomatic ties with any nation that recognizes Taiwan and has spent the majority of the last 40 years trying to isolate the self-governing island by chipping away at its diplomatic allies with offers of economic support.
The ‘switch’ in ties
Only 14 nations, including Honduras, still recognize Taipei over Beijing diplomatically, but that situation now appears set to change. The move will also strengthen Beijing’s position in a region that has traditionally supported its adversary, Washington.
Castro’s tweet came before Tsai’s planned trip to Central America, where she’s anticipated to visit Guatemala and Belize, which is scheduled for next month. More sensitively, she will travel through the US and meet with Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the US House, which will probably infuriate China.
On Wednesday, foreign officials from China welcomed the Honduran president’s statement and stated that they were willing to establish “friendly and cooperative relations” with the nation.
China has strived to increase its influence across the world as its leader, Xi Jinping, consolidates power back home and revives the economy from the damaging “zero-carbon” policy.
Since 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen was chosen president, Taiwan has lost eight diplomatic allies. Castro, who took office in 2021, stated she told her foreign minister to seek diplomatic ties with China, carrying out one of her campaign promises.
The president of Honduras did not explicitly state whether relations with Taiwan would be strained. However, she stated in January 2022 that she wanted to maintain those ties.
A few weeks prior to Castro’s announcement, her administration announced that it was in talks with China to construct a hydroelectric dam. For a similar project in 2021, Beijing gave Honduras a loan of $300 million (£246 million).
Taiwan’s foreign ministry issued a statement asking Honduras to “carefully consider” its options and not “fall into China’s trap” before making a decision that would damage their long-standing friendship.
Nicaragua terminated its long-standing connections with Taiwan in December 2021, declaring that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory,” and switching its allegiance to China.
Taiwan might lose another ally in Latin America, Paraguay, if the opposition prevails in the presidential race in late April.
Efrain Alegre, the opposition’s presidential candidate, has said that Paraguay will cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan and establish ties with China, in hopes of boosting significant soy and beef imports.
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