China has convinced Honduras to break official connections with Taiwan and establish them with Beijing, dealing a blow to Taiwan’s international stature just days before the Taiwanese president goes on a Central American visit that will include the United States.

It was a rebuttal to Washington’s attempts to bolster Taiwan’s supporters in Central America, as well as a reduction in the number of nations with diplomatic links to Taiwan, the island democracy that Beijing claims as its own. China’s authorities are attempting to isolate Taiwan in an effort to force it to embrace unification, while the United States has been attempting to bolster Taiwan’s security and prestige.

Honduras sided with China over Taiwan 2023 2

Honduras prefers China to Taiwan.

In the decades-long conflict between China and Taiwan, the loyalty of Honduras may seem like a trivial issue, but the island’s diplomatic relations are now so limited that any departure would be a significant loss. Honduras’ foreign ministry issued a brief statement on Saturday, stating, in part,

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and as of today, the government of Honduras has severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, pledging not to have any further official relations or contact with Taiwan.”

Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, stated during a press conference held immediately after Honduras published its statement that “China’s measures to diminish our country’s diplomatic space have deeply offended the Taiwanese people and exacerbated the deterioration of cross-Strait ties.”

A statement from Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Twitter expressed “deep sadness” over the severing of ties. Sunday also saw the Chinese foreign ministry weigh in. China praised the decision of Honduras, calling it “a correct option that conforms to the general trend and to the desire of the people,” according to a statement.

While without explicitly addressing the move away from Taiwan, government leaders in Honduras had stated days before that building tighter ties with China was essential to reviving the nation’s struggling economy.

Choosing China over Taiwan, Honduras

Rodolfo Pastor de Mara y Campos, the Honduran secretary of state, told reporters that the country is indebted to the tune of more than $20 billion. “What we want to do via our partnership with China is investment to overcome the issues facing the country,” he said. China and its investors have already demonstrated interest in the nation by sponsoring a hydroelectric dam and investigating rail and port projects.

The establishing of China-Honduras relations occurs days before Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visits Taiwan’s two remaining Latin American allies, Belize and Guatemala, to boost ties. President Tsai is scheduled to depart Taiwan on Wednesday for a tour that will include stops in the United States, a move that China has criticized.

In a Facebook post, President Tsai stated that China’s efforts to stifle Taiwan’s international engagement will not “diminish the desire of the Taiwanese people to adhere to freedom and democracy and to advance in the world.” Now, just 12 nations and the Holy See recognize Taiwan, down from 21 at the beginning of 2017. Taiwan has not lost a diplomatic friend since Nicaragua established diplomatic ties with China in 2021.