China beat Taiwan in bidding for relations with Honduras
Foreign Minister Reina stressed that Honduras had no other choice, as his country was "deep in financial challenges", including a $600 million debt to Taiwan.
Honduras' foreign minister is visiting Beijing to restore diplomatic ties with China, severing decades of political ties with Taiwan.
Sources in Tegucigalpa confirmed information that Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina traveled to China "to promote the establishment of diplomatic relations."
Reacting to the diplomatic reversal, Taipei announced last night that the Honduran authorities, although already owed $600 million, had asked for another $2,5 billion in aid to continue relations with Taiwan.
The head of diplomacy Reina confirmed the amount, but noted that Tegucigalpa was not asking for a "donation", but a "mechanism for refinancing", that is, "buying off the debt of Honduras".
Honduras is among 14 countries in the world that maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei, isolating it from Beijing, which views Taiwan as a breakaway Chinese territory that needs to be reunified. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that "Beijing welcomes the positive initiative of the Honduran government to build relations and is willing to develop them on the basis of equality and mutual respect."
Taiwan's Central News Agency reported that on March 13, Minister Reina requested $2,5 billion in support in a letter to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Just one day later, before Taipei responded to the letter, Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced on Twitter that she had instructed Minister Reina to "seek the opening of official relations" with China, but not that Honduras was officially cutting ties with Taiwan.
Reina only dismissed details of the report. He noted that he had "verbally requested funds from Taiwan multiple times for the refinancing mechanism" and that he had sent the letter a week earlier. He emphasized that Honduras had no other choice, because his country is "up to the throat in financial challenges", including the debt of 600 million dollars to Taiwan. Reina complained that "interest rates were too high and were suffocating Honduras."
In the face of the debt dispute, Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang stressed that Taiwan "will not easily give up its efforts to maintain relations with Honduras." He reiterated his warning to Honduras "not to believe in empty promises" from China, but told it that "Taipei will not bid with Beijing."
The head of diplomacy, Joseph Wu, said yesterday that "the situation with Honduras is not good."
– We told them that their debt can be reprogrammed. The other side asked for too high a price, but Taiwan will not engage in a competition with China in dollar-diplomacy - said Wu, without mentioning the amount.
Citing an "anonymous source familiar with the situation", Reuters reports that China had planned to "take over" Honduras in the second half of the year, but "has accelerated activities to complete the work by the end of this week, before Taiwanese President Tsai Ing- Wen to visit Guatemala and Belize, the other Latin American countries that have relations with Taipei.