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Taiwan head takes Honduras off Latin America trip

Taiwan head takes Honduras off Latin America trip

Taiwan's president canceled Monday a planned visit to Honduras _ one day after its leader was ousted in a coup _ as he prepared to make his second Latin American trip in a month to strengthen ties with the island's few allies.
Ma Ying-jeou leaves Monday on an 8-day visit to Panama and Nicaragua amid signs China is easing its long-standing diplomatic blockade of the self-governed island in response to his various peace gestures. Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras are among only 23 countries that recognize Taiwan. China, which sees the island as a renegade province, has relations with more than 200.
"The political situation in Honduras is less than clear," presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi said. "The original purpose of (Ma's) visit may not be achieved under the circumstances, and there are also concerns about his safety."
President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was detained Sunday, hours before a constitutional referendum that many saw as his attempt to stay in power beyond the one-term limit. An air force plane flew him into forced exile in Costa Rica.
Ma is to attend the Wednesday inauguration of Panama's president-elect, Ricardo Martinelli _ a rare occasion when the Taiwanese president can exchange greetings with world leaders. He will then visit Nicaragua.
China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and China's leaders normally object to Taiwan's maintenance of diplomatic relations as symbols of national sovereignty.
Since Ma took office a year ago, he has pushed hard to end the rivals' long-standing practice of using financial incentives to lure away each other's allies.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Henry Chen, said China appeared to have stopped its efforts to lure away the island's allies because of Ma's pledge not to support Taiwanese independence. Besides, he said, none of them have major oil or gas deposits, making them less attractive to Beijing, which is hungry for natural resources.
"None of our 23 allies are energy-rich countries, and China would be hesitant about giving out big grants to them," Chen said.
Taiwan has also become more pragmatic. For instance, Ma called off a plan to build a $300 million power plant for Honduras _ a promise made by his pro-independence predecessor _ but offered technical support for its construction instead, Chen said.


Updated : 2021-04-16 07:17 GMT+08:00