Taiwan and Honduras ended more than eight decades of diplomatic relations as the central American country said it now recognises the island as part of China. Honduras is the ninth diplomatic ally that Taipei has lost to Beijing since pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen (pictured) first took office in May 2016.
China and Honduras will establish diplomatic ties at the ambassadorial level effective immediately, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement, calling it “the right choice” for the central American country. Taiwan said the Honduran decision was regrettable and hurtful, and linked it to the promise of financial support from China.
“For a long time, our belief has been to support the long-term and substantive development of our allies through forward-looking and pragmatic approaches to the best of our ability,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said. “We will not engage in a meaningless money-diplomatic contest with China.”
Honduras said there is “only one China” and Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory. The People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing all of China, it said in a statement on Twitter. It did not include any mention of reasons behind the decision or financial aid.
The move means Taiwan now has full official diplomatic relations with just 13 countries, mostly around the Caribbean. That cuts the number of friends that can take up issues for the self-run island in international forums like the UN, where it lacks a seat.
Honduras’s bid to switch official ties to Beijing was driven by financial issues and debt, Reuters reported earlier.
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The Honduran government wanted $2.45 billion in financial aid from Taipei, and compared Taiwan’s monetary support with China’s, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Sunday.
The move comes before Tsai starts a visit this week to allies such as Guatemala and Belize, and stops in the US. She has used her nearly seven years in office to garner support from nations who are willing to defy China, which has pledged to bring the island under its control.
“Taiwan’s severance of diplomatic relations with Honduras is part of a series of Chinese attacks and threats,” Taiwanese Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan said. “These measures cannot change the fact that Taiwan and China are not subordinate to each other, nor can they destroy the will of the people of Taiwan to love freedom and democracy.” bloomberg