Honduras is China’s new ally as it cuts ties with Taiwan.

The Central American country of Honduras snapped its decades-old ties with Taiwan on Sunday and formalised diplomatic relations with Beijing, saying it “recognises the existence of only one China in the world”, leaving the self-ruled island with only 13 formal allies.

The latest diplomatic blow to Taiwan comes in the backdrop of rising cross-Strait tension with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) having held large military drills around it last year and earlier this year and its air force frequently buzzing the island with fighter jets and bombers.

China and Honduras “decided to recognise each other and establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, effective from the date of signature of this communique,” a joint statement issued here by the two countries said.

Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Qin Gang and his Honduran counterpart Eduardo Enrique Reina signed the joint communique at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on Sunday, raising champagne glasses for a toast after releasing the statement.

The Honduras government recognises the “…existence of only one China in the world and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China”, the country’s foreign ministry had said in a statement earlier in the day.

It added that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and as of today, the Honduran government has informed Taiwan of the severance of diplomatic relations, pledging not to have any official relationship or contact with Taiwan”.

“…Honduras chooses to stand with 181 countries in the world, recognise and undertake to adhere to the one-China principle, sever the so-called “diplomatic relations” with Taiwan,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

Honduran President Xiaomaro Castro tweeted earlier this month that she had instructed foreign affairs minister Eduardo Reina to start negotiations with China and that her intention was to “expand frontiers freely in concert with the nations of the world”.

It prompted Taiwan to recall its ambassador to Honduras last week and caution the Central American country not to fall into China’s “trap”.

China and Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway region to be merged with the mainland with force if necessary, have been locked in a battle for diplomatic recognition since the sides split amid civil war in 1949.

Under the “one-China principle”, Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway part of its territory, does not accept official ties of a third country with the island, and has never ruled out using force to merge it with the mainland.

Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu said on Sunday that Taiwan had ended its relations with Honduras to “safeguard its sovereignty and dignity”.

Wu, according to an Associated Press report from Taipei, said Castro and her team always had a “fantasy” about China and had raised the issue of switching ties before the presidential election in Honduras in 2021. Relations between Taiwan and Honduras were once stable, he said, but China had not stopped luring Honduras.

While Taiwan now has only 13 formal allies, a majority of countries including India maintain informal ties with the island, a world leader in technology including in the critical chip sector.

A major source of friction between China and the US has been Washington’s ties with Taipei, and its sale of weapons to the island. Beijing describes it as interference in its internal affairs.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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