Honduras switches diplomatic allegiance to China after cutting Taiwan ties

(Update 1: Adds statements from China and Taiwan, changes slug, head, lede, minor edits)

Beijing/Tegucigalpa, Mar 26 (EFE).- Honduras and China on Sunday announced their establishment of diplomatic relations hours after the Central American country officially cut the ties it had with Taiwan since 1941.

Honduras’ Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang signed a Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Honduras in Beijing, formalizing the move.

“The two governments have decided to recognize each other and establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, effective from the date of signature of this communiqué,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The step takes place 11 days after Honduras President Xiomara Castro announced her intention to establish ties with the Asian giant, and came just hours after Reina said in a statement that his government had notified Taipei of its decision to cut diplomatic relations.

Honduras said that it “recognizes the existence of only one China in the world, and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China.”

The statement from the Honduran foreign ministry emphasized that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory,” which is why it has communicated to Taipei “the rupture of diplomatic relations, pledging not to have any official relationship or contact” with the island again.

Beijing’s One China policy requires countries seeking a diplomatic relationship with China to cut all ties with Taiwan, which it views as a rebel province of the mainland.

China’s foreign ministry on Sunday said “the government of Honduras chooses to stand with 181 countries in the world, recognize and undertake to adhere to the one-China principle, sever the so-called ‘diplomatic relations’ with Taiwan, establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, and undertake that Honduras shall no longer develop any official relations or official exchanges with Taiwan.”

“This is the right choice that is in line with the prevailing trend and supported by the people.”

Taiwan responded in a statement Sunday, saying that it “has decided to terminate diplomatic relations with the Republic of Honduras with immediate effect, end all bilateral cooperative projects, and recall the staff of its embassy, consulate general in San Pedro Sula, technical mission, and electricity mission. It has also demanded that Honduras close its embassy in Taiwan.”

Before her inauguration as president on Jan. 27, 2022, Castro had said that it was not on her agenda to start relations with China.

However, Reina traveled to Beijing three days ago to negotiate the agreement, a trip to which Taiwan responded by withdrawing its ambassador to the Central American country.

A day later, Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” with Reina’s trip, which “seriously hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese government and people.”

Honduras’ decision has been marred by controversy as Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Thursday that Castro’s government had “asked a high price” for maintaining diplomatic ties with Taipei, which was confirmed the same day by Honduran Vice Foreign Minister Tony Garcia.

Garcia said his country asked Taiwan for $2 billion to restructure its external debt and, according to unofficial accounts, also requested a hospital.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry in Sunday’s statement said Castro’s administration had “demanded massive amounts of economic aid, totaling billions of US dollars, and weighed Taiwan’s assistance proposals against those submitted by China.”

“Taiwan proposed assistance programs with the greatest sincerity and to the best of its capabilities. But Honduras continued to make willful and peremptory demands, even publicly releasing incorrect information, causing harm to the government of Taiwan.”

It warned nations that China’s “actions do not align with its words” and that its move has “exacerbated the rift in cross-strait relations.”

Honduras and Taiwan maintained a relationship of military, educational, and economic cooperation, and the island financed technical and agricultural aid projects and also hosted hundreds of Honduran scholarship holders at its universities.

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