Honduras formally established diplomatic relations with China and cut off with Taiwan, closing a relationship of decades and carrying out the most recent coup on the self-governed democratic island in their fight for recognition.
“The government of the Republic of Honduras acknowledges the existence of a China in the world and that the government of the People’s Republic of China represents China as a whole,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
“Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and, as of today, the Honduran government informed Taiwan about the rupture of diplomatic relations,” he added.
China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, despite never having governed it, refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes Taiwan.
The Chinese government has gone through a large part of the last 40 years trying to isolate the self-governing island, destroying its diplomatic allies with offers of economic support.
At this time, Honduras was one of the 14 countries that still diplomatically recognized Taipei. Following the announcement from Honduras, Taiwan confirmed that the ties had been formally severed.
“To safeguard national sovereignty and dignity, we decided to immediately cease diplomatic relations with Honduras and suspend all bilateral cooperation plans,” said chancellor Joseph Wu in a group interview, adding that Taiwan is asking Honduras to date its embassy in Taipei.
China also confirmed the measure, highlighting that it issued a “Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations” with Honduras.
“The two governments (of China and Honduras) will decide to recognize and establish relations at the diplomatic level, from the date of signing this communiqué”, observes a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
“There is hardly one China in the world and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legal government that represents all of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of China”, she added.
The Honduran president, Xiomara Castro, had announced on March 14 that a move was imminent.
Castro, a democratic socialist who won an overwhelming victory in 2021, had said in his foreign policy statement before the vote that the Central American country was trying to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing.
The Communist Party of China has not ruled out the use of force to one day take Taiwan. Under the command of leader Xi Jinping, the country increased military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the island, including attracting Taipei allies to shift their allegiance.
losing or acknowledging
Taiwan had 56 diplomatic allies when it lost United Nations recognition in 1971. That number fell to 22 when Taiwan’s current president, Tsai Ing-wen, took office in 2016, and continued to fall in the following years.
Most of the remaining two allies are now small nations in Latin America and the Pacific, with all of the world’s most powerful economies moving or reconcile to Beijing decades ago.
China is using its huge market as a tool to eliminate or support the rest, in an approach that many specialists call “dollar diplomacy.”
When the Ilhas Salomão moved the diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 2019, the Pacific country received US$ 8.5 million in development funds from China to do so, according to Reuters.
Paraguay, the largest country among Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies, on the other hand, faced restrictions on exporting soybeans and beef to China.
Its president, Mario Abdo Benítez, openly called on Taiwan to invest US$1 billion in his country last year so that it could continue to resist “enormous” pressure on or abandonment of the alliance.
“The rise of China has become a great challenge for our diplomacy,” he recently highlighted. CNN Johnny Chiang, parliamentarian for the opposition Kuomintang party of Taiwan, and member of the National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee of the parliament.
He says that the island is increasingly choosing not to equate China’s “dollar diplomacy” – preferring to emphasize shared values, such as democracy.
Effects of loss of support
Analysts differ as to the meaning they attribute to Taiwan’s loss of allies. Some say that official relationships are valuable, but only at a certain point.
Having official allies helps give Taiwan a voice in the international community. Last October, for example, 10 two diplomatic allies of Taiwan sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to criticize Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN.
Still, most of its remaining allies are relatively small and have limited influence in the global arena.
“They have a voice in the UN General Assembly, but their numbers are insufficient to influence others, who frequently vote in favor of Beijing,” says J. Michael Cole, senior consultant at the Taipei-based International Republican Institute.
Others say that Taiwan’s global influence is growing, despite the loss of allies.
For example, Taiwan’s unofficial relationship with the United States – which withdrew or diplomatic recognition from Taipei in 1979 – seems to many to be just as strong as it has been in recent decades.
The lack of diplomatic ties did not prevent the then House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, from making a controversial visit to the island in August – to which China responded with anger, carrying out unprecedented military exercises and firing missiles at the island.
He is also not dissuaded by the current president of the US Chamber, Kevin McCarthy, from planning a meeting with Tsai at the beginning of April, when she must travel from the United States to Central America, in another trip that should irritate China.
Specialists point out that the United States continues to be the main guarantor of the security of the island in the face of a possible invasion by China, and that the US supplies arms to Taiwan every year – both without an “official” diplomatic relationship.
They also note that the G7 nations (USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom) are quick to express their concerns after the military exercises after Pelosi went to China.
Taiwan’s role as a global leader in providing semiconductor chips – needed to power everything from laptops to advanced weapons – also makes it an important trading partner for many Western democracies.
As Lev Nachman, assistant professor of politics at Chengchi National University, told CNN recently: “Taiwan’s diplomatic allies offer significant support to Taiwan, such as allowing official visits to take place. More than once we ask, if one day Taiwan doesn’t have a formal diplomatic ally, or what would it really change? And the answer is not very”.
Source: CNN Espanol