What does Honduras cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establishing them with China mean?
The diplomatic change was something Honduran President Xiomara Castro often spoke about during her successful presidential campaign in 2021.
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On Saturday, March 25, Honduras officially cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and immediately established them with Beijing, giving China another ally in Latin America, where the country has invested heavily for decades.
Taiwan and Honduras had maintained an 80-year relationship before yesterday’s severing of diplomatic ties, and without the country, the island only has three remaining diplomatic allies in Latin America — Belize, Guatemala, and Paraguay — and four more when including the Caribbean — Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
In an official release from Honduras’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs after cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the Central American country affirmed its new ties with China and attacked Taiwan’s sovereignty in relation to its new ally.
“The government of the Republic of Honduras recognizes the existence of one China in the world and that the government of the People’s Republic of China represents China as a whole,” part of the statement read. “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and as of today, the government of Honduras has informed Taiwan about the rupture of diplomatic relations.”
Taiwan also confirmed the severing of diplomatic ties with Honduras in a press conference where Foreign Minister Joseph Wu offered comments on the move.
“To safeguard national sovereignty and dignity, we have decided to immediately cease diplomatic relations with Honduras and suspend all bilateral cooperation plans,” Wu said before asking Honduras to shutter its embassy in Taipei.
As quoted by NBC News, Wu also took aim at Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who he said always had a “fantasy” about China, and was something she expressed frequently while on the presidential campaign trail in 2021.
“The Castro government dismissed our nation’s longstanding assistance and relations and carried out talks to form diplomatic ties with China. Our government feels pained and regretful,” he said.
When it comes to the assistance Wu mentioned, he was referencing a $2.45 billion ask Honduras made of Taiwan two weeks ago to build a dam, hospital, and to settle outstanding debts. It then compared its proposal to that of one China presented.
China has a history of attempting to buy or tax out Taiwan’s diplomatic ties around the world, including in Latin America. As CNN pointed out, when the Solomon Islands decided to switch to recognizing China in 2019, it came after the Pacific Island country was offered $8.5 million in development funds by China.
In Latin America, Paraguay — one of Taiwan’s last remaining diplomatic allies in the region — called for the island to invest $1 billion in the country in 2022 to overcome economic pressure from China. The South American country faces restrictions exporting its beef and soy products to China. China is the world’s second-largest consumer of beef (after the U.S.), and is its biggest buyer of soy.
When it comes to Honduras, Chinese company SINOHYDRO is behind an ongoing hydroelectric dam project in the country with the backing of $300 million from the Chinese government.
With Honduras’ switch, it also marks the ninth diplomatic ally Taiwan has lost on the global scale since pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016. It has just 14 diplomatic allies left in the world.
Next week, Ing-wen begins a two-week tour of its remaining Central American allies in Belize and Guatemala before arriving in the U.S. for a reported meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The latter meeting will likely ruffle feathers in China.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also traveled to Taipei in August 2022 and it resulted in China firing missiles over Taiwan and performing military drills nearby.
The U.S. cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan back in 1979 in favor of China, but does still provide military support to the island and is technically an unofficial ally. Taiwan is also one of the world’s biggest providers of computer chips.