Honduras to Switch Ties From Taiwan to China – President Xiomara Castro of Honduras stated that she has asked her foreign minister to establish diplomatic relations with China, which would break ties with Taiwan and further isolate the island on the international stage.
The Central American nation’s switch from Taipei to Beijing would leave Taiwan with only 13 countries with formal diplomatic relations. China prohibits countries with which it maintains diplomatic ties from maintaining official contact with Taiwan.
Throughout her election campaign, Castro had proposed cutting ties with Taiwan and establishing relations with China. On Tuesday, she made the declaration via Twitter. In the tweet on Tuesday, Castro said the decision was “a sign of my determination to fulfil the government plan and expand borders”.
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The action comes weeks after her government said it was in negotiations with China to construct the Patuca II hydroelectric dam. Taiwan’s foreign ministry stated on Wednesday that it had expressed “serious concerns” to the Honduran government over Castro’s announcement, urging the country to carefully consider its decision and “not fall into China’s trap” in order to preserve the long-standing friendship between the two countries.
“Taiwan is a sincere and reliable ally. Our country has always assisted Honduras in its national development to the best of our capabilities. China’s only goal in developing relations with Honduras is to shrink our country’s international space, it has no sincere intentions to cooperate for the good of the Honduran people,” the ministry said in a statement.
China’s foreign ministry welcomed the move, saying that it would develop “friendly and cooperative relations” with Honduras. Honduran foreign minister Eduardo Reina told local TV on Tuesday: “We have to look at things very pragmatically and seek the best benefit for the Honduran people.”
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Taiwan has diplomatic relations with Eswatini, the Holy See, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Honduras, the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, according to the ministry of foreign affairs of Taiwan.
Beijing and Taipei have experienced problems as a result of Latin America. All Central American nations aligned with Washington had maintained contacts with Taiwan for decades. With Honduras’s turn to Beijing, only Guatemala and Paraguay currently maintain formal relations with Taiwan.
If it wins the April election, the Paraguayan opposition believes it would establish new links with China. Over the past decade or so, Costa Rica (2007), Panama (2017), El Salvador (2018), and Nicaragua (2021) cut connections with Taipei and formed relations with Beijing, which had for years lobbied on behalf of Taiwan’s diplomatic friends.
Moreover, China has been accused of utilizing bribes to attain its diplomatic objectives. David Panuelo, the outgoing president of Micronesia, accused China of “political warfare” in its efforts to prevent Micronesia from moving diplomatic ties from Beijing to Taipei.
Timothy Rich, an analyst at Washington-based thinktank the Global Taiwan Institute, said the “substantive effects” of Honduras switching ties from Taipei to Beijing “should be limited assuming Taiwan avoids kneejerk reactions”. “Taiwan cannot compete on aid packages alone and should not myopically focus on formal diplomatic partners that cannot aid its economic or security concerns,” Rich said.
The move by Honduras comes ahead of Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s planned trip to Central America next month where she is expected to visit Guatemala and Belize. She will also meet Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, which is certain to infuriate Beijing.
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China views Taiwan as a renegade province that must “unify” with China and has not ruled out the use of force against the island. Taiwan is an independently governed democracy. Beijing responds violently to government attempts to interact with Taipei, attacking diplomatic delegations to Taiwan. The United States and its allies are increasingly concerned about a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, prompting the most recent diplomatic steps.
The People’s Liberation Army sends daily military sorties across the Taiwan Strait to wear down Taiwan’s military, in what analysts have called “grey zone warfare”. China flew 28 military planes across the Taiwan strait on Wednesday morning, 16 of which crossed the median line, an unofficial border dividing the two shores, according to Taiwan’s ministry of defense.