Honduras would like to reject Taiwan and build relations with China

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced Tuesday that his government would seek to establish diplomatic ties with China, which would mean breaking ties with Taiwan. The switch would leave Taiwan only recognized by 13 countries as China spends billions seeking recognition for its “One China” policy.

Castro said on his Twitter account that he instructed Honduran Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Reina to start talks with China and that he intended to “expand borders freely with the countries of the world”.

Castro said during her presidential campaign in 2021 that she would like to establish ties with China if elected, but once in power, her government backtracked on those comments. In January 2022, the Minister of Foreign Affairs told The Associated Press that Honduras would continue to strengthen ties with Taiwan and that establishing diplomatic relations with China was not a priority for Castro.

Foreign Minister Reina had said that the government weighed the benefits to Honduras from good relations with Taiwan and decided there was no reason to change at that time.

In Taipei, the foreign ministry said it had “expressed serious concerns to the Honduran government. Our country has made it clear to Honduras several times that Taiwan is an honest and reliable cooperative partner for our allies. Think carefully and don’t fall into China’s trap or make wrong decisions that harm the long-standing friendship between Taiwan and Honduras.

Beijing has not commented on the issue

China claims that self-governing, democratic Taiwan is part of its territory, which can be brought under its control by force if necessary. and denies most contacts with countries that maintain formal relations with Taiwan, and threatens retaliation against countries merely for increasing contact.

China expels Lithuanian ambassadorIn October 2021 it downgraded diplomatic ties with the Baltic country of 2.7 million people and blocked trade after boosting ties with Taipei. Lithuania has since closed its embassy in Beijing and opened a trade office in Taiwan.

It is unclear why the government of Honduras changed its mind. However, China, which is building a massive dam in Honduras, typically uses trade and investment as incentives to mend ties, as it has done with Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and recent Has recently done successfully with South Pacific countries including the Solomons. island.

Taiwan supplies a dwindling number of formal diplomatic partners with agricultural experts, vocational training programs and other forms of economic aid.

However, budgetary restrictions imposed by a democratically elected legislature prevent it from splurging on sports stadiums, conference halls and government buildings like in China.

China’s multi-billion-dollar “Belt and Road” initiative has also offered developing countries ports, railways, power plants and other infrastructure, funded by loans at market rates.

The loss of Honduras would leave Taiwan with formal diplomatic ties to just 13 sovereign states, including Vatican City. In Latin America, it also has ties with Belize and Paraguay, with most of its remaining allies being small, poor island nations in the Caribbean and the South Pacific.

It is the only remaining African ally of Iswanti, formerly known as Swaziland, whose Prime Minister Cleopas Sifo Dlamini visited Taiwan this month and expressed support for the island’s re-admission to the United Nations and its agencies .

Taiwan has maintained strong informal ties with more than 100 other countries, despite China’s campaign for isolation.

Earlier this month, Micronesian President David Panuelo accused China of waging a “political war”. In a letter to other national leaders and discussed switching diplomatic allegiance from China to Taiwan in exchange for $50 million to recharge the small Pacific island nation’s trust fund.

Panuelo said that China was spying on Micronesia, offering bribes and acting in a threatening manner in an attempt to ensure that Micronesia would align with China if it went to war with Taiwan. Will do, or at least refrain from taking sides.

Panuelo said Micronesia would also receive a $15 million annual aid package and Taiwan would take over various projects initiated by China, including a national convention center, two state government complexes and two gymnasiums.

China denied the allegations, calling them a “smear”.

China’s diplomatic offensive has begun to raise concerns in the US as its rivalry with Beijing escalates.

China conquered Taiwan’s former Pacific allies Kiribati and the Solomon Islands in 2019, signing a security deal with the latter Which will allow Chinese Navy ships and security forces to maintain a presence in the country. The move drew concern from opposition politicians in the US, Australia and New Zealand as well as within the country.

Frightened by such growth of China, the Biden administration is proposing to spend billions To keep the three Pacific countries in America’s orbit.

President Joe Biden’s proposed federal budget released on Thursday includes more than $7.1 billion in funding for the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. The money is included in a $63.1 billion request for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development.

The money, to be paid over 20 years, would extend agreements with the three states under which the US provides them with essential services and economic aid in exchange for military base rights and other preferential treatment. Those deals were set to expire at the end of this year and next, and US officials say China is trying to exploit the extension talks to its advantage.

The White House said the payments are part of its strategy to “beat China” and strengthen US alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.

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