Honduras, Nicaragua envoys affirm ties with Taiwan

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National flags of Honduras (left) and Nicaragua (wikipedia)

National flags of Honduras (left) and Nicaragua (wikipedia)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- Ambassadors from two of Taiwan's Central American allies reaffirmed Thursday their respective governments' commitment to maintaining diplomatic relationship with the Taiwan, two days after neighboring El Salvador announced its change of allegiance from Taipei to Beijing.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs first announced the severing of ties with El Salvador Tuesday, after which El Salvador declared that it was cutting ties with Taiwan to establish relations with the People's Republic of China.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) attributed the loyalty switch to China's campaign of luring away Taiwan's allies with promises of massive financial assistance and investment.

Since then, many local scholars and former diplomats, including ex-Foreign Minister Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) have warned that more Central America allies, particularly Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, could be next in line.

Asked to comment, Honduran Ambassador to Taiwan Rafael Fernando Sierra Quesada reiterated his government's stance that his country will continue to maintain official ties with Taiwan.

"Every time that a country goes with China, Honduras is supposed to be the next one, and we are here," Sierra told reporters via text messages.

He said bilateral relations remain stable as various cooperation projects between the two sides are ongoing, which are beneficial for both countries.

"The important thing about our relationship is that we continue to work together in different areas, (creating a) win-win situation," he said.

Nicaragua's ambassador to Taiwan, William Manuel Tapia Aleman, meanwhile, stressed that his country has long been a staunch supporter of Taiwan.

Tapia disclosed that he met with Vice Foreign Minister Jose Maria Liu (劉德立) Tuesday, carrying the message from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega that his country will continue to be a firm ally of Taiwan.

"We have always supported Taiwan in the international arena and we hope that Taiwan can know that we are the best ally of Taiwan," he told local media.

Tapia quoted Ortega's words when he met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during his inauguration ceremony in January 2017.

"As long as I'm the president of Nicaragua, we'll never betray Taiwan. We are people of commitment."

Meanwhile, the Guatemalan Embassy in Taiwan told reporters that it will consult with superiors in Guatemala and will not make a public comment on the issue until next week.

Taiwan lost its fifth ally in two-and-a-half years Tuesday since Tsai took office in May 2016. Among the five, three are located in Central America -- Panama, Dominican Republic and El Salvador.