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Diplomatic relations with Taiwan have become a hotspot in Central America, as Beijing looks to deepen ties.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro said she wanted her country to open formal diplomatic relations with China, in a move that would end its formal relationship with the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
Castro, who said during her 2021 election campaign that she would change relations with Beijing before later relenting, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night that she had instructed her foreign minister to begin the process of recognizing the People’s Republic of China.
She wrote that the move was “a sign of my determination to comply with the government’s plan and to expand borders freely”.
Some of the last few countries to recognize a democratic Taiwan over China are in Central America and the Pacific. Beijing has been trying to deepen ties with Taipei’s remaining allies since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016, and several Pacific nations, including the Solomon Islands, made the switch in 2019.
In Central America, a region the United States has long considered within its sphere of influence, Nicaragua severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2021. If Honduras makes a change, Taiwan will be left with only 13 official diplomatic allies around the world. compared to 22 when Tsai took office.
“Central American recognition of Taiwan is a legacy of the Cold War,” Bruno Benetti, a doctoral candidate at the London School of Economics and expert on Chinese relations in Latin America, told Al Jazeera in emailed comments. Much has changed since then, including China’s stunning economic rise. For decades, Taiwan has actually been a more attractive economic partner than China. This is ancient history, Taiwan cannot compete with China’s huge market.”
Tsai, who is considered a “separatist” by Beijing, had previously accused China of “dollar diplomacy” over the issue of diplomatic recognition, which also saw Taipei, officially known as the Republic of China, excluded from international bodies such as the World Health Organization. Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The government of the Republic of China was established in Taipei at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 when the Communists established the People’s Republic of China in Beijing.
Beijing claims that democratic Taiwan is its own territory, does not have the right to state-to-state relations, and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goals.
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