TAIPEI: China often makes promises in exchange for recognition that remain unfulfilled, the de facto US embassy in Taipei said on Saturday as Honduras moves ahead with ending its long-standing ties with Taiwan in favour of China.
The Honduran foreign minister travelled to China this week to open relations after President Xiomara Castro said her government would move to forge ties with Beijing, Honduras being one of only 14 countries to formally recognise Taiwan.
At stake is China’s growing footprint in Central America, once a steadfast base for Taiwan and where the US is worried about Beijing’s expanding influence in its backyard.
China views Taiwan as one of its provinces with no right to state-to-state ties, a view the democratically-elected government in Taipei strongly disputes.
The American Institute in Taiwan said that while Honduras’ possible severing of ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing was a sovereign decision, China does not always follow through on its promises.
“It is important to note the PRC often makes promises in exchange for diplomatic recognition that ultimately remain unfulfilled,” a spokesman said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“Regardless of Honduras’ decision, the US will continue to deepen and expand our engagement with Taiwan in line with our longstanding one China policy,” the spokesman added.
Taiwan is a reliable, like-minded, and democratic partner, and its partnerships globally provide “significant and sustainable benefits to the citizens of those countries”.
“We strongly encourage all countries to expand engagement with Taiwan and to continue to stand on the side of democracy, good governance, transparency, and adherence to the rule of law.”
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it has previously said its relations with Taiwan’s former diplomatic allies have brought them real benefits.
The Honduras drama is happening ahead of a high-profile visit by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to the US and Central America next week. Tsai is expected to meet U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles at the end of the trip.
The US also has no official ties with Taiwan but is the island’s most important international backer and arms supplier.
Neither China nor Honduras has announced they have established diplomatic relations.
Diplomatic sources in Taipei say this is a departure from previous practice whereby an announcement on severing ties with Taiwan in favour of China normally happens very fast, with Taipei getting only maybe a few hours notice beforehand.