Taiwan has urged Honduras not to “quench your thirst with poison and fall into China’s debt trap”, adding it would not compete monetarily with China to keep its formal allies after its decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing this week.
Honduran president Xiomara Castro announced on Tuesday that her country would begin to establish an official relationship with Beijing, in effect severing its ties with Taipei.
Her foreign minister, Eduardo Enrique Reina, said on Wednesday the country had asked Taiwan to double its annual aid to $100m and renegotiate its debt to the island, a request he said went unanswered. The Central American country is struggling to repay its international debts, including $600m owed to Taiwan. “Honduras’ needs are enormous, and we haven’t seen that answer from Taiwan,” the minister said.
In response, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Reina’s statements “did not reflect the whole truth” of the negotiations and that the ministry had “actively” engaged in bilateral talks with Castro’s government. “Our communication efforts with Honduras have never stopped,” the ministry said on Thursday, adding it was trying its best to maintain its friendship with Honduras.
“We urge Honduras, which is already suffering from debt problems, to not quench your thirst with poison and fall into China’s debt trap”, the ministry said in its statement.
Taiwan’s response comes as the US warned Honduras that Beijing may not follow through on its promises of financial investment and aid.
“The Honduran government should be aware that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) makes many promises that are unfulfilled,” a state department spokesperson said on Wednesday, adding the department was closely monitoring the situation.
Honduras’ diplomatic switch leaves Taiwan with 13 countries that recognise it as a country. China does not allow any of its diplomatic allies to recognise Taipei in an effort to isolate the island democracy from the international community. Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has not ruled out the use of force in attempts to “re-unify” it with China.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, hailed Honduras’ decision as “the right choice that accords with the trend of history and our times” on Wednesday.
Honduras becomes the latest Central American country to sever ties with Taiwan to pursue relations with China, as Beijing seeks to assert its international influence amid souring tensions with the West.
Beijing incentivises countries with promises of investment and trade in return for siding with its narrative on its claim to Taiwan. China has already invested $298m in a first dam in eastern Honduras inaugurated in January 2021.
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