Honduras maintains relations with China after the secession of Taiwan

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March 26, 2023 | 5:38 am

Honduras established diplomatic ties with China on Sunday after severing ties with Taiwan, an increasingly isolated country now recognized by only 13 sovereign states, including Vatican City.

The foreign ministers of China and Honduras signed a joint statement in Beijing – a decision that China’s foreign ministry hailed as “the right choice”.

The new ties come amid rising tensions between Beijing and the United States, including China’s growing assertiveness toward autonomous Taiwan, and reference to growing Chinese influence in Latin America. The announcement of new relations between China and Honduras took place after the governments of Honduras and Taiwan made separate announcements severing ties.

The Honduran Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Twitter that its government recognizes “only one China in the world” and that Beijing “is the only legitimate government that represents the whole of China”.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, center, prepares to speak at a press conference after Honduras announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Taiwan, in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 26, 2023.
AP

She added, “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and as of today, the government of Honduras has informed Taiwan to sever diplomatic relations, and pledged not to have any official relationship or contact with Taiwan.”

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said at a press conference on Sunday that Taiwan had ended its relations with Honduras to “protect its sovereignty and dignity.”

Wu said that Honduran President Chiomara Castro and her team had always had “fantasies” about China and raised the issue of switching relations before the Honduran presidential election in 2021. Relations between Taiwan and Honduras were once stable, he said, but so was China. Honduras has not ceased to be drawn.

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Wu said Honduras had asked Taiwan for billions of dollars in aid and compared its proposals to China. He added that about two weeks ago, the Honduran government asked for $2.45 billion from Taiwan to build a hospital and a dam and to cancel debts.

Castro’s government has rejected the long-standing help and relations offered by our nation and has been in talks to form diplomatic relations with China. “Our government feels pain and remorse,” he said.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said her government “will not engage in a senseless competition for dollar diplomacy with China.”

“Over the past few years, China has continuously used various means to suppress Taiwan’s international participation, escalate military intervention, and disrupt peace and stability in the region,” she said in a recorded video.

Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina Garcia, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang raise a toast following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on March 26, 2023.
AP

Her office spokeswoman, Olivia Lynn, said in a statement that the two sides have had relations for more than 80 years.

Analysts have warned of the implications for the newly formed relations between China and Honduras. Honduras-based political analyst Graco Perez said Beijing’s narrative would highlight the benefits, including investment and job creation, “but that would all be fictitious.”

Peres noted that some other countries have established such relationships, but “it is not clear that this is what was shown.”

For decades, China has invested billions of dollars in investment and infrastructure projects across Latin America. This investment has translated into a growing strength for China and an increasing number of allies.

In Honduras, it came in the form of the construction of a hydroelectric dam project in central Honduras built by the Chinese company SINOHYDRO with approximately $300 million in funding from the Chinese government.

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Honduras is the ninth diplomatic ally Taipei has lost to Beijing since pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen first took office in May 2016.

China and Taiwan have been locked in a battle for diplomatic recognition since the two sides split amid civil war in 1949, with Beijing spending billions to win recognition for its “one China” policy.

The Honduran national flag flies on the vacant third pole to the left outside the Diplomatic Quarter building in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 26, 2023.
AP

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary, and refuses most contacts with countries that maintain official relations with the island democracy. He threatens to retaliate against the states just for the increase in contacts.

Taiwan still has relations with Belize, Paraguay, and Guatemala in Latin America, and the Vatican City. Most of its remaining partners are island nations in the Caribbean and South Pacific, along with Eswatini in South Africa.

Tsai is scheduled to start the 10-day trip on Wednesday with visits to Guatemala and Belize. Last week, Lynn said her delegation would also make stops in New York and Los Angeles. Taiwan’s Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Yu said earlier that the purpose of Tsai’s visit is to highlight the island’s friendship with the two Latin American countries.

Wu said he had no evidence that the timing of the announcement was related to Tsai’s trip, but noted that “China appears to be doing it on purpose”.

Despite China’s campaign of isolation, Taiwan maintains strong informal relations with more than 100 other countries, the most important of which is the United States. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but has confirmed that Taipei is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

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