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Honduras switches connections from Taiwan to China

Honduras will establish diplomatic ties with China, President Xiomara Castro said Tuesday, a move that would result in the severing of long-standing official ties with Taiwan.

Castro wrote on Twitter that she had instructed Secretary of State Eduardo Reina to “establish official relations with the People’s Republic of China”.

The move – which Castro pledged during the election campaign – comes weeks after her government said it would negotiate with China to build a hydroelectric power station.

Under Beijing’s “One China” principle, no country is allowed to have official diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan.

Beijing said it “welcomes” the decision, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told journalists, “Based on the one-China principle, China stands ready to establish friendly and cooperative relations with Honduras and other countries around the world.” “

Honduras is one of only 14 countries to officially recognize Taiwan, a self-governing island that China believes will one day reclaim part of its territory, by force if necessary.

The Honduran government did not immediately confirm whether it had officially severed ties with Taipei.

On Wednesday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed “serious concern” about the announcement.

“We ask Honduras to think carefully and not fall into China’s trap and make the wrong decision to damage the long-standing friendship between Taiwan and Honduras,” the statement said.

On Wednesday morning, an AFP journalist saw Honduran Ambassador to Taipei Harold Burgos arrive at Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Neither side commented directly on the meeting.

Diplomatic battlefield

Latin America has been a key diplomatic battleground for China and Taiwan since the two countries separated in 1949 after a civil war. Along with Belize and Guatemala, Honduras is one of the three Central American countries that still recognize Taiwan.

It is one of the few remaining allies in Latin America after China poached Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica in recent years.

Taiwan’s other diplomatic allies include the Vatican, Eswatini, Paraguay and Haiti, as well as seven small island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific.

Beijing has ramped up diplomatic, military and economic pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who has taken a firmer stance on the island’s independence issue.

As part of this push, China has increased investment in Latin American countries in recent years.

Announcing plans to build the new dam in February, Honduran Foreign Minister Reina said the Chinese-funded Patuca II project will help the country improve its energy supply.

At the time, Reina also dismissed speculation that Tegucigalpa would switch diplomatic allegiances.

China has already financed the construction of another dam called Patuca III with a $300 million loan. Patuca III was inaugurated in 2021 by then-President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Economic leverage

Castro’s 2022 inauguration ceremony was attended by Taiwanese Vice President William Lai, whose brief exchange with US counterpart Kamala Harris was the first such public interaction in more than four decades.

The United States is one of Taiwan’s closest allies and its biggest arms supplier, but it only recognizes Beijing diplomatically and resists unilateral changes to the status quo by either side.

Analyst Raul Pineda told AFP that if Honduras were to establish diplomatic ties with China, it could affect relations with the United States.

“At the moment, relations between China and the United States are very tense. From this point of view, it would be a very unfortunate decision by the Castro government, he said.

Alexander Huang, a political scientist at Tamkang University in Taipei, said Taiwan has limited resources to resist China’s economic might in the diplomatic arena.

“Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies are relatively small and have limited ability to resist the pulls of mainland China’s markets and business opportunities,” he told AFP.

“(Honduras’ announcement) adds another record of losing diplomatic allies to the Tsai government.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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