TAIPEI, March 16 (Reuters) – Taiwan on Thursday warned Honduras not to be tempted by the “poison” of aid from China, no matter how deeply indebted it was, and ruled out getting involved in a bidding war for diplomatic allies with its mainland rival.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro said on Tuesday that she had asked her foreign minister to open official relations with China. If the Central American country ends relations with Taiwan, it would leave the island with only 13 diplomatic allies.
Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina said on Wednesday that the decision to switch allegiances to China was partly because Honduras was “up to its neck” in financial challenges and debt — including $600 million it owes Taiwan .
“We remind the Honduran government not to quench its thirst with poison, even if it is completely dehydrated by debt,” the Taiwanese ministry said.
Reina said Honduras had asked Taiwan to double its annual aid to $100 million but never received a response. Honduras also tried to renegotiate the debt, but to no avail.
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Taiwan denied that, saying the Honduran foreign minister’s comments did not reflect the facts of their communications. Taiwan responded positively to Honduras’ proposals from start to finish, it said.
“We are still trying to maintain diplomatic ties and doing our best to fight for it, but we will absolutely not engage in monetary competition with China,” the ministry said.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing that Taiwan’s former allies such as Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador have seen “rapid development” in bilateral relations, bringing them “tangible benefits”. yielded.
China is willing to develop ties with all countries, including Honduras, on the basis of the “one China” principle, he said, referring to Beijing’s position that China and Taiwan are part of one country.
“I believe this will create more opportunities for the economic development of Honduras and the well-being of its people.”
The United States, Taiwan’s main international lender despite the lack of formal ties, watched with concern as China has increased its footprint in Latin America at the expense of Taiwan.
The US State Department said on Wednesday that China makes many promises it does not keep.
“The Honduran government should be aware that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) is making many promises that remain unfulfilled,” said a State Department spokesman.
China does not allow countries with which it maintains diplomatic relations to maintain official ties with Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory with no right to interstate ties, a position Taiwan strongly disputes.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Faith Hung; Additional reporting by Laurie Chen in Beijing; Edited by Himani Sarkar, Robert Birsel and Kim Coghill
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