The minister says the decision to cut ties with Taiwan is rooted in “pragmatism, not ideology” as the country faces economic hardship.
The Honduran foreign minister said on Wednesday that the decision to establish diplomatic relations with China and cut ties with Taiwan was driven by economic interests rather than ideology.
Speaking to Canal 5 television channel, Eduardo Enrique Reina said rising debt and the need for more investment motivated the decision, announced Tuesday by Honduran President Xiomara Castro.
“The global situation is complicated. We have to open up,” Reina said. “We need investments. We need cooperation.”
The minister’s remarks highlighted the dilemmas faced by countries seeking strong economic ties with both the United States, a strong supporter of Taiwan, and China, which views the self-governed island of 23 million as its own territory with no right to state formation. -state ties.
If Honduras goes through with this week’s announcement, Taiwan will be left with just 13 formal diplomatic allies.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Central America with nearly 75 percent of the population living in poverty.
Reina said Honduras had asked Taiwan to double the $50 million in aid it receives each year and consider “aligning” the country’s $600 million debt to the island.
When Honduras failed to receive a positive response, Reina said the Castro government was establishing diplomatic ties with the Chinese government, in a development he said was rooted in “pragmatism, not ideology”.
The decision was made after talks with American and Asian allies, the minister said, adding that he also wants to strengthen ties with Washington and other countries.
But the move could have implications for relations between Honduras and the US, the Central American country’s largest trading partner.
Washington views Beijing as its biggest geopolitical rival, and ties between the two nations have soured in recent years over numerous points of tension, including trade, Taiwan’s status, China’s claims in the South China Sea and a US attack on the Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
Late Tuesday, US Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said on Twitter that Honduras “came closer to communist China as the world goes away”. He added: “The Honduran people will suffer.”
But on Wednesday, Reina pointed out that 171 other countries have formal diplomatic ties with China, not Taiwan. The US is one of those countries, but it is also Taiwan’s main ally and a major supplier of weapons.
Reina added that Honduran officials are likely to meet their Chinese counterparts in the coming days to formalize the relationship, having already contacted the Chinese ambassador to Costa Rica to begin talks.
Costa Rica is one of many other countries in the region, including Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, that have also left Taiwan in favor of relations with China in recent years.
The trend shows the desire of many poor countries not to take sides as tensions rise between the US and China, both seen as major sources of potential trade and investment.