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Honduras President Announces Plan to Seek Formal Ties with China

FILE - Honduras President Xiomara Castro addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 20, 2022.

President Xiomara Castro of Honduras says her country will seek to establish formal diplomatic relations with China.

President Castro announced on her Twitter account that she had instructed Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Reina to begin negotiations with Beijing about opening official relations with the world’s second-largest economy.

The move will likely end Honduras’s formal relations with Taiwan, the self-ruled island off the southeast coast of China. Communist-run China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to reunite the territory with the mainland – by force if necessary – and is opposed to any nation maintaining separate ties with Taipei.

Castro promised to seek diplomatic and economic ties with China during her 2021 presidential campaign, but once in office backtracked and said she hoped to maintain ties with Taiwan.

Many countries switched their diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing after the United Nations recognized Beijing as the only legitimate representative of China at the world body in 1971.

Taiwan now has formal relations with just 14 nations, including Honduras, with China having launched an intense campaign involving trade and economic investment to convince other nations to switch relations. Four other Central American nations – Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua have severed ties with Taipei in recent years.

China is financing construction of a hydroelectric dam in Honduras.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the government welcomed Castro’s statement, saying China was eager to establish ties with any nation “on the basis of the one-China principle.”

Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry issued a statement urging Tegucigalpa to carefully consider its decision to establish ties with China and not "fall into China's trap.”

The announcement comes just weeks before Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen travels to Central America.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.