Honduras Breaks Away From Taiwan for Partnership With China
Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced on March 14 that her government would begin developing formal diplomatic relations with China. A new relationship with China means Honduras will have to cut its official ties with Taiwan, leaving Taiwan with only 13 diplomatic partners.
President Castro wrote in a Twitter post on March 14 that she had instructed Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina to begin establishing official relations with China, implementing an electoral campaign promise she had made to “fulfill the government plan and expand borders.”
‘China’s trap’: Immediately Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry summoned Honduras ambassador Harold Burgos for talks and warned the Honduran government to “not fall into China’s trap,” adding that “China’s only goal in developing relations with Honduras is to shrink our country’s international space,” since the nation “has no sincere intentions to cooperate for the good of the Honduran people.”
China refuses to recognize Taiwan as an independent territory and will not establish formal diplomatic ties with any nation that has diplomatic relations with the island. President Castro’s decision means Honduras will have to abandon Taiwan to gain a more economically reliable partner in China.
Drowning in debt: Defending Castro’s decision, Foreign Minister Reina said Honduras was forced to make the decision due to energy needs and the country’s “drowning” debt. Honduras is one of Central America’s poorest countries, and its national debt is nearly $20 billion. Reina explained that Honduras had asked Taiwan for extra assistance, though it already owes the island $600 million, but Taiwan did not give a positive response.
The global situation is complicated. We need to open up. We need investment. We need cooperation.
For Honduras, maintaining allegiance to the small island of Taiwan when it could develop a strong partnership with an economic giant like China could be economically deleterious. The final decision to work with China was based on “pragmatism, not ideology,” Reina said.
Trade on the line: Over the past decade, many nations, particularly those in Central America, have been switching their allegiance from Taiwan to China. For most of these nations, such as Honduras, the change is due to economic reasons and China’s willingness to fund the region. But China could use this trend to deepen its power over a region full of shipping lanes vital to United States’ trade. If China can effect more influence in either of these regions, America’s trade will be gravely impacted.