China’s promises are often empty, the US warns, while Honduras backs away from Taiwan

TAIPEI (Reuters) – The United States Embassy in Taipei said on Saturday that China often makes promises in return for recognition that are not kept as Honduras moves forward to end its long-standing ties with Taiwan in China’s favour.

Honduras’ foreign minister traveled to China this week to open up relations after President Xiomara Castro said her government would move to establish ties with Beijing. Honduras is one of only 14 countries to officially recognize Taiwan.

At stake is China’s growing influence in Central America, once a steady base for Taiwan and where the United States is wary of Beijing’s expanding influence in its backyard.

China views Taiwan as one of its provinces with no claim to interstate relations, a view that is fiercely contested by the democratically elected government in Taipei.

The American Institute in Taiwan said that while Honduras’ potential severing of relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing was a sovereign decision, China does not always keep its promises.

A PRC spokesperson said, “It is important to note that the PRC often makes promises in return for diplomatic recognition that are ultimately not fulfilled,” referring to the PRC.

“Regardless of Honduras’ decision, the United States will continue to deepen and expand our engagement with Taiwan in line with our longstanding one-China policy,” the spokesperson added.

Taiwan is a trusted, democratic and like-minded partner whose partnerships globally provide “significant and sustainable benefits for the citizens of those countries”.

“We strongly encourage all countries to expand engagement with Taiwan and continue to stand for democracy, good governance, transparency and adherence to the rule of law.”

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China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but has said in the past that its relations with former diplomatic allies of Taiwan have brought them real benefits.

Members of the Honduran community in Taipei gathered at National Taiwan University on Saturday to express their thanks for what they described as a non-political event.

“We are very grateful for the opportunities Taiwan has given us,” said Billy Barebice, 27, who first came as a student.

“Taiwan has provided us with education, and introduced many projects that have developed our country, such as renewable energy and agriculture.”

The drama takes place in Honduras ahead of a high-profile visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to the United States and Central America next week. Tsai is expected to meet Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles at the end of the trip.

The United States also has no official relations with Taiwan, but it is the island’s largest international supporter and arms supplier.

Neither China nor Honduras has announced the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Diplomatic sources in Taipei say this is a departure from past practice in which the severance of relations with Taiwan in China’s favor is usually announced very quickly, with perhaps only a few hours’ notice from Taipei.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Laurie Chen in Beijing; Editing by Robert Purcell and Michael Berry)

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