Honduras cuts diplomatic ties with Taiwan after China's 'flashy promises'
Taiwan confirmed the loss of another of its diplomatic allies on Sunday, accusing Beijing of coercion and “flashy promises” in enticing Honduras away from Taipei.
The move leaves Taipei with just 13 official allies, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, and also including the Vatican. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and countries have to choose between having official relations with Beijing or Taipei.
The coup for Beijing comes ahead of sensitive stopovers by President Tsai Ing-wen in the United States next week as she travels to and from Taiwan’s Central American allies Belize and Guatemala.
During a stopover, she is expected to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which would draw Beijing’s ire. After McCarthy’s predecessor Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August last year, China staged war games near Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said at a press conference on Sunday that Honduras’ decision to end their relationship, which goes back to 1941, was “regrettable”. He said Taipei would end all projects and aid programmes in Honduras, and recall its embassy staff.
Mr Wu also condemned Beijing for what he said was its campaign to isolate Taiwan internationally, and said Taiwan needed to work harder on expanding its diplomatic space.
He said Honduras had asked Taipei for “billions of dollars in huge economic assistance”.
But he said Taiwan’s approach “is not like that of China; that is, to make recipient countries mistakenly believe that China can give them a very large amount of aid, which is not transparent, or a large amount of loans, and then get them into a debt crisis.”
Honduras’ switch to Beijing had been expected after President Xiomara Castro said earlier this month her government would start relations with Beijing. Honduras’ foreign minister travelled to China on Wednesday for talks.
Honduras is the ninth ally to switch recognition since President Tsai came to power in 2016.
While Taiwan’s diplomatic allies are small, they can speak up for the island in international institutions, like the United Nations, from which Taiwan is barred because of pressure from Beijing.