Biden Official to Visit Honduras After Tegucigalpa Pivots Towards 'Official Ties With China'
09:23 GMT 17.03.2023 (Updated: 12:46 GMT 19.06.2023)
Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced on 15 March that she had instructed her Foreign Minister, Eduardo Enrique Reina, to establish official relations with China, in a move that was in line with the government’s plan to expand collaboration with “the nations of the world”.
The recently announced Honduran tilt towards China has prompted some frenzied high-ranking shuttle diplomacy from the US to Central America.
Chris Dodd, the Biden administration's special presidential adviser for the Americas, is being dispatched to Panama and Honduras this month, according to a US Department of State Thursday announcement. Ex-lawyer Dodd will visit the two countries from 17 to 21 March, and he has already had meetings lined with officials and private-sector representatives in Honduras, and officials and finance leaders in Panama, the US Department of State said. The American official shall also put in an appearance at the annual conference of the Inter-American Development Bank.
"These visits advance the commitment of the United States to foster inclusive economic growth, democracy, human rights, and rule of law in the western Hemisphere," the State Department said.
This sudden desire to "foster inclusive economic growth" comes hot on the heels of an announcement by Honduras that it wanted to establish formal diplomatic ties with China.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced on 15 March that she had instructed her foreign minister to establish official relations with China, explaining the need by “determination to comply with the government plan and expand the borders freely in concert with the nations of the world”.
© Photo : TwitterScreenshot of Twitter post by Honduran President Xiomara Castro.
Screenshot of Twitter post by Honduran President Xiomara Castro.
© Photo : Twitter
Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina, for his part, stressed that the government has “to look at things very pragmatically and seek the best benefit for the Honduran people.”
Taiwan, which China regards as its wayward province and an inalienable part of the country destined eventually to reunite with the mainland, reacted to Castro’s announcement by voicing “serious concerns”. The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry urged the capital Tegucigalpa not to "fall into China’s trap” and destroy the long-term relationship between the two nations, adding:
"We very much hope that Honduras can recognize the true nature of China and hope they maintain diplomatic relations and not be deceived."
According to Reina, the Central American country is facing financial challenges, and its debt to Taiwan stands at $600Mln. Reina added that although Honduras had attempted to renegotiate the debt with Taipei, the attempt failed.
China is ready to develop ties with all countries, including Honduras, on the basis of the "one China" principle, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. He added that former Taiwan allies such as Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador have witnessed "rapid development" in bilateral relations, reaping "tangible benefits".
Taiwan, a territory with its own elected government, has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949. Although Beijing views the island as its province, Taiwan maintains that it is an autonomous country. Taipei has diplomatic ties with 14 countries by which it is, by definition, officially recognized. They are: Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Eswatini, Tuvalu, and the Vatican. Taipei also maintains economic and cultural ties with some other states although it has no official diplomatic relations with these countries. The move announced by Honduras is not new, as over recent years, a number of countries, including El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, Panama, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Nicaragua, decided to cut ties with Taiwan and establish official relations with China instead.
Beijing, which considers Chinese sovereignty over the island indisputable, has vehemently opposed any official contacts of foreign states with Taipei. Tensions between China and Taiwan escalated last year after an array of trips to the island by US and European officials. China criticized the visits as a show of support for Taiwanese separatism.
In a recent speech before the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislative body, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing would continue to pursue reunification of Taiwan with the mainland through peaceful means.
Xi stated on 13 March that his government would actively promote the “peaceful development” of cross-strait relations and “unswervingly” promote reunification with Taiwan. He added that external interference and separatist activities in Taiwan would be resolutely opposed.
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