China says there were no conditions attached to a recent decision by Honduras to end its decades-long diplomatic relationship with Taiwan and establish formal ties with Beijing.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning made the statement on Monday, a day after the foreign ministers of China and Honduras signed a joint communique in Beijing establishing ties.
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“Diplomatic ties are not something for trade,” Mao said, responding to a question about whether Beijing would give the government in Tegucigalpa the aid it had reportedly sought from Taiwan.
Earlier this month, Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina issued a letter requesting a loan of $2.5bn from Taiwan, according to the Reuters news agency. The loan was intended to help write off debt, as well as provide funds for the construction of a hospital and a dam, the news agency reported, citing a copy of the letter.
Honduras subsequently denied it had demanded $2.5bn in aid, while Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Honduras had demanded “a high price” to maintain relations.
For her part, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen dismissed Honduras’s move as “part of a series of China’s coercion and intimidation”.
Mao, meanwhile, said on Monday: “We want to tell Taiwan authorities that Taiwan independence is a dead end, dollar diplomacy has no way through, [and] any plots that go against the tide of history are doomed to end in failure.”
Fight for recognition
China and Taiwan have been locked in a battle for diplomatic recognition since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
China views Taiwan as one of its provinces with no right to state-to-state ties, a view the democratically elected government in Taipei strongly disputes.
Beijing has spent billions to win recognition for this “One China” policy. Observers note that a surge in Chinese development and political engagement has resulted in several Latin American countries switching their diplomatic relations from Taiwan to Beijing.
Costa Rica, for instance, formalised relations with China in 2007. And since 2017, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic have established relations with Beijing and severed ties with Taiwan.
In the statement announcing the formation of ties with Beijing, Honduras’s foreign ministry said on Saturday, “Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory.”
The moves leave Taiwan with only 13 countries that officially recognise its sovereignty. Several powerful Western countries, including the United States, nevertheless provide support for the island, although they officially recognise Beijing’s government.
Taipei’s remaining diplomatic partners include a handful of Latin American countries as well as several island nations in the South Pacific. Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, in southern Africa also has diplomatic ties with Taiwan, as does Vatican City.
The latest switch comes as Taiwan’s President Tsai is set to begin a 10-day trip to diplomatic allies Guatemala and Belize this week, which will include a brief stopover in the US.
An upcoming election in Paraguay has also widely been viewed as a referendum on the country’s diplomatic relations with the island.