President-Elect of Honduras’s Commitment to China Puts Taiwan, United States on Tails

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Xiomara Castro’s victory in the presidential elections in Honduras has placed the Central American nation at the heart of an intensifying diplomatic standoff between Taiwan and China.

Honduras is one of the last 15 countries to recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan, which China claims as part of its own territory. But Castro has committed to a manifesto to end this decades-long relationship and establish diplomatic ties with Beijing.

In an apparent attempt to salvage the relationship, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday congratulated Castro on his victory and reminded him of their bilateral ties. “I look forward to working with you for the benefit of the people of our countries and to strengthening the long-standing partnership between Taiwan and Honduras” Ing-wen a dit sur Twitter.

Castro retweeted the message with a terse response: “Thank you very much, President Tsai Ing-wen. “

Castro’s proposal has raised concerns in Washington, which urged him to maintain relations with Taiwan, according to sources within his campaign.

During a visit to Honduras the week before the elections, a US delegation made clear its hope that the country would maintain its current relations with Taiwan – which the Chinese Foreign Ministry has denounced as “behavior of twisting of arms and d ‘bullying’.

But experts say a decision to establish diplomatic ties with China would be driven in part by a desire to counter U.S. influence – and the potential financial rewards were too enticing to ignore.

“This is an attempt to balance US hegemony,” said economist Ismael Zepeda, of the Honduran think tank Fosdeh. “Honduras wants to get into the dynamic of saying that if you don’t support me internally, I have another ally who will give me the resources I need if I want to build mega-projects. “

Although Taiwan has generously donated to its poorest allies, including Honduras, it cannot compete with the economic largesse from China, which has rained gifts, loans and investments on other countries in the region that have changed diplomatic allegiance in recent years. Panama cut ties with Taipei in 2017 and has since seen a surge of Chinese investment.

And Castro will take the reins of a country still reeling from the impacts of the pandemic and two major hurricanes. Seventy-four percent of residents live below the poverty line – the highest percentage in at least four decades.

The situation is far more serious than when Castro’s husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, ruled between 2006 and 2009, when he was ousted in a military-backed coup.

Zelaya’s administration has benefited economically – and politically -om Venezuela’s oil-fueled bounty, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and grants that have enabled it to carry out popular programs for which it still is. revered to this day. But now Venezuela’s economy is in shambles, and the Biden administration has pledged to channel $ 4 billion in foreign aid to the region, mostly through civil society and the private sector.

“The decision to flirt with China is tied to the availability of resources. China is ready to donate money for these pharaonic megaprojects that somehow governments are using to project their images, ”Zepeda said.


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