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Taipei expresses concern as Beijing approaches diplomatic ally Honduras

Taiwan's diplomatic ties to Honduras in spotlight after its foreign minister meets Chinese officials

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Honduran President Xiomara Castro de Zelaya.

Honduran President Xiomara Castro de Zelaya. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Authorities in Taipei are growing concerned that China is courting Honduras in an effort to poach another ally from Taipei.

Earlier in January, the Honduran newspaper La Prensa reported the Honduran Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduardo Enrique Reina met with China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Xie Feng (謝峰) on Jan. 1. Both officials were in Brasilia for the inauguration of Brazil’s President Lula de Silva.

News of the bilateral meeting came as a surprise to Taiwan, with the country’s Ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Vivia Chang (張俊菲), expressing concern on behalf of Taipei to the Honduran Foreign Ministry.

Minister Reina said he discussed plans for Chinese involvement in a hydroelectric dam in Honduras. On Wednesday (Jan. 18), Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed grave concern over China’s attempts to poach another ally in Central America, warning that Hondurans should beware of “false promises” made by Beijing.

Following news of the incident, media coverage in Honduras has reported favorably on the country’s diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. Public sentiment in the country appears to favor maintaining ties with Taiwan, reported CNA.

However, based on past experience, there is still plenty of reason to worry. The Liberty Times reported MOFA’s Vice Minister Alexander Tah-ray Yui (俞大㵢) was visiting countries to shore up diplomatic alliances with nations being courted by Beijing.

In addition to Honduras, Taipei is concerned about the upcoming April election in Paraguay, where a win by the opposition could imperil diplomatic relations.

While MOFA declined to identify which countries Yui visited, it is certain that Taipei will be watching the situation in Central and South America very closely over the following weeks. This weekend, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will meet in Argentina, where regional leaders will treat with Chinese representatives.

The President of Honduras Xiomara Castro will join the CELAC summit on Sunday (Jan. 22), where she is likely to meet with officials from China’s Foreign Ministry, according to Honduran newspaper El Heraldo.