On 26 March, Honduras announced that it has broken off the 82-year-long diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, and is now establishing new ties with China.
Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang signed the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Honduras, in a meeting held in Beijing on Sunday.
Honduras recognises “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,” written in a ministry statement.
“Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and as of today, the Honduran government has informed Taiwan of the rupture of diplomatic relations, pledging not to have any official relationship or contact with Taiwan.”
Located in Central America, Honduras experienced one of the highest economic growth in the region, second only to Panama. The country had a gross domestic product of USD 28.49 billion in 2021, according to World Bank.
By signing this communiqué, the nation has therefore declared an official end of its longstanding diplomatic relation with Taiwan, which used to be among the few countries recognising Taiwan’s regime.
China praised Honduras’ “clear-cut attitude and firm determination to establish diplomatic relations with China”, and has pledged to fully support the country’s economic and social development, as well as strive to enhance its livelihood.
China would willingly receive all Honduran students currently staying in Taiwan, to study in the mainland if they wish, said a spokesperson on 27 March.
Including Honduras, nine countries have now terminated their diplomatic relations with the regime for Beijing instead ever since Tsai Ing-wen won presidency of the Republic of China in 2016.
Only 13 countries remain allies of Taiwan, mostly island countries located in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The incident heightened the tension between Taiwan and China, which have been on fierce terms since the end of the civil war in 1949, as China reinforces the one-China principle on the international stage and repeatedly denounces the Taiwan regime, which the Beijing government view as part of the Chinese territory. Whereas, Taiwan viewed itself as a separate regime, regarding the breaking-off of its former allies as a strategy of isolating Taiwan in terms of international position.
On the same day as the Honduran government’s declaration, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the decision to cut Taiwan-Honduras diplomatic ties with immediate effect, to uphold “international dignity.”
The Taiwanese government accused the Chinese government of using cash to “entice” Honduras away from diplomatically recognising Taiwan. It emphasized Taiwan’s constant aid to Honduras with healthcare, infrastructure and disaster relief programmes as well.
The regime’s foreign minister Joseph Wu said in a press conference that the Honduran government requested Taiwan’s financial assistance to build several infrastructures, including a hospital quoted at USD 45 million and a dam costing USD 300 million, as well as repaying its national debt amounting to USD two billion, despite the Honduran government denying the statement in response to the media.
Wu added that the embassy received a letter from the Honduran authority on 13 March with increased quotes of the financial aid request. However, this violated Taiwan’s practice of supporting its allies with project execution, instead of merely handing out money.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen also expressed pity for the severance of the decades-long friendship with the former Central American ally in a video posted on her official YouTube channel.
Tsai said Taiwan would only raise its determination to seek more allies around the globe in response to the incident.
Many Taiwanese citizens showed support in the comments for Tsai and the regime’s decision of cutting ties with Honduras, and demonstrated optimism in Taiwan’s development of freedom and democracy.
On the other hand, Chinese netizens exhibited divergent views towards the incident on social media platforms like Weibo, with some worried about Honduras draining the Chinese budget.
Featured image credit: Héctor Emilio Gonzalez / Unsplash