Honduras makes a bold move towards China due to economic pressure
Eduardo Enrique Reina, the foreign minister of Honduras, has stated that the decision to establish diplomatic relations with China and terminate ties with Taiwan was based on economic interests rather than ideology. Reina, speaking to Canal 5 on Wednesday, cited increasing debt and the need for more investments as the driving forces behind the move, which was announced by President Xiomara Castro a day earlier.
Honduras, being one of the poorest countries in Central America with a population in which nearly 75% lives in poverty, needs investment and cooperation. This puts Honduras in a difficult position as it seeks to maintain strong economic ties with both the United States, which supports Taiwan and China, which considers Taiwan to be its own territory without the right to state-to-state ties. If the announcement is followed through, Taiwan will be left with only 13 diplomatic allies.
Reina said that Honduras had requested Taiwan to double the $50 million it provides annually and reconsider its $600 million debt to the island, but there was no positive response. Consequently, the Castro administration moved forward to pursue diplomatic ties with the Chinese government, an action that Reina claims are rooted in “pragmatism, not ideology.”
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry responded with a statement on Thursday, claiming that it had negotiated bilateral cooperation plans with Honduras since Castro took office, but it did not mention the debt issue. The statement also reminded Honduras to be aware of China’s false promises while expressing its willingness to assist Honduras with construction and development to the extent of its capabilities.
According to Reina, Honduras has concluded its decision on diplomatic relations after discussing with the US and Asian allies. Reina emphasized that he also aims to enhance ties with Washington and other nations.
However, this move could result in consequences for the bond between Honduras and the US, which is the country’s largest trade partner in Central America. As Washington regards Beijing as its primary geopolitical adversary, the relationship between the two nations has deteriorated over numerous points of tension, such as trade, Taiwan’s status, China’s claims in the South China Sea, and the US’s effort to curb Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
A spokesperson for the State Department stated on Wednesday, “The Honduran Government should be mindful that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) makes many promises that are not fulfilled.” “We will keep a close eye on what happens next.”
However, Reina highlighted on Wednesday that 171 other countries have official diplomatic relations with China, not Taiwan. The US is one of those nations, but it is also Taiwan’s most critical ally and a significant arms supplier.
Reina also mentioned that Honduran officials are expected to meet with their Chinese counterparts in the coming days to establish their relationship. They have already reached out to the Chinese ambassador in Costa Rica to commence discussions. In recent years, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic have all abandoned Taiwan in favor of China, as have several other countries in the region.
This trend reflects the desire of many impoverished nations to avoid taking sides as tensions rise between the US and China, both of which are viewed as significant sources of potential trade and investment.