Taiwan and Honduras will end diplomatic relations as the central American country said it now recognizes the island as part of China.
The Honduran Foreign Ministry said that it’s cutting relations with Taiwan, according to a post on Twitter. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry will hold a briefing to announce a similar move, the island’s Central News Agency reported.
The move means Taiwan now has full official diplomatic relations with just 13 countries, mostly around the Caribbean. That cuts the number of friends that can take up issues for the self-run island in international forums like the United Nations, where it lacks a seat.
It also comes before Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to allies Guatemala and Belize en route to the US this week. Tsai has used her nearly seven years in office to garner support from nations who are willing to defy China, which has pledged to bring the island under its control.
China has repeatedly said Taiwan is part of its territory, while Taiwan has asserted it is a de facto sovereign nation.
The US, Japan and other nations have recently made bigger displays of support for island and its population of around 23 million people. President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that the US would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack, comments that have angered Beijing. In December, the US authorized up to $10 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan over five years.
Earlier this year, the Czech Republic’s new president, Petr Pavel, drew a stiff rebuke from Beijing after holding a phone conversation with Tsai days after his election. He later said he hopes to meet Tsai, who will leave office in 2024.
The last nation to switch diplomatic relations to Beijing from Taipei was Nicaragua in 2021. The Pacific Island of Kiribati did so in 2019.
Paraguay, among nations that still recognize Taiwan, holds general elections in April. The ruling Colorado Party has historically has been pro-Taiwan, and a key driver behind not recognizing China.
Honduras’s bid to switch official ties to Beijing was driven by financial issues and debt, Reuters reported, citing Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina’s comments to a local TV station. Honduras owes Taiwan $600 million, he added. – BLOOMBERG