China has taken a significant step to counter Australian ally the US, reminding Washington any attempts to challenge Beijing on Taiwan are "doomed".
Honduras established diplomatic ties with China on Sunday after breaking off relations with Taiwan, which is increasingly isolated and now recognised by only 13 sovereign states.
Foreign ministers from China and Honduras signed a joint communique in Beijing — a decision the Chinese Foreign Ministry hailed as “the right choice.”
Australia involved in strategic struggle
The diplomatic victory for China comes as Australia finds itself at the centre of a global strategic struggle, with the confirmation of its landmark AUKUS deal solidifying Canberra's relationship with the US. The Albanese government is also acting quickly to ensure it does not lose its foothold in the increasingly-important Pacific, with Foreign Minister Penny Wong signing a security agreement with Kiribati last month.
Tensions continue to rise between Beijing and the United States, including over China’s increasing assertiveness toward self-ruled Taiwan, and signals growing Chinese influence in Latin America. The new China-Honduras relationship was announced after the Honduran and Taiwanese governments made separate announcements that they were severing ties.
China and Taiwan have been locked in a battle for diplomatic recognition since they split amid civil war in 1949, with Beijing spending billions to win recognition for its “one China” policy.
China claims Taiwan is part of its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary, and refuses most contacts with countries that maintain formal ties with the island democracy. It threatens retaliation against countries merely for increasing contacts.
Nations supporting Taiwan independence 'against the trend of history', China warns
China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said the establishment of ties proved that adhering to “one China” policy is winning people’s hearts and is “the general trend.”
“We inform sternly the Taiwan authorities that engaging in separatist activities for Taiwan independence is against the will and interests of the Chinese nation and against the trend of history, and is doomed to a dead end,” he said.
The Honduran Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Twitter that its government recognises “only one China in the world” and that Beijing “is the only legitimate government that represents all of China.”
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.”
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told a news conference Sunday that Taiwan had ended its relations with Honduras to “safeguard its sovereignty and dignity.”
Wu said that Honduran President Xiomara 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.
Honduras had asked Taiwan for billions of dollars of aid and compared its proposals with China’s, Wu said. About two weeks ago, the Honduran government sought $2.45 billion from Taiwan to build a hospital and a dam, and to write off debts, he added.
“The Castro government dismissed our nation’s longstanding assistance and relations and carried out talks to form diplomatic ties with China. Our government feels pained and regretful,” he said.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said her government would not “engage in a meaningless contest of dollar diplomacy with China.”
China's promise of financial aid an 'illusion', expert warns
Analysts have warned over the implications of the newly formed ties between China and Honduras. Political analyst Graco Pérez in Honduras said Beijing’s narrative would highlight the benefits, including investment and job creation, “but that is all going to be illusory.”
Pérez noted that some other countries have established such relations, but “it didn’t turn out to be what had been offered.”
For decades China has funneled billions of dollars into investment and infrastructure projects across Latin America. That investment has translated to rising power for China and a growing number of allies.
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