Taiwan decries monetary demands after Honduras cuts ties

TAIPEI: Honduras ended its decades-long relationship with Taiwan and said it only recognised China, as Taiwan’s foreign minister accused the Central American country of demanding exorbitant amounts of money and being lured by Beijing.

The ending of ties with Taiwan had been long expected after the Honduran foreign minister travelled to China last week to open relations, and President Xiomara Castro said her government would start ties with Beijing.

In a brief statement late on Saturday announcing the severing of ties, the Honduran foreign ministry said it recognised the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government that represents all of China and that Taiwan is an “inseparable part of Chinese territory”.

China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory with no right to state-to-state ties, a position Taipei strongly rejects. China demands that countries with which it has ties to recognise its position.

Speaking today in Taipei shortly after the announcement, Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu said Castro, who took office early last year, and her government had “always had illusions” about China and China’s “luring” had never stopped.

“The foreign ministry and embassy grasped the relevant information and handled it carefully. However, the Castro government also asked us for billions of dollars in huge economic assistance and compared prices for assistance programmes provided by Taiwan and China,” Wu said.

China has yet to comment on the Honduran announcement on cutting Taiwan ties but it said last week it was ready to establish relations.

Wu added that the Honduran foreign minister wrote to Taiwan on March 13, the day before Castro’s original announcement, demanding a total of US$2.45 billion in aid, including the construction of a hospital and a dam, and to write off debt.

“It felt like what they wanted was money, not a hospital,” Wu said.

Honduran foreign minister Eduardo Enrique Reina told Reuters last week the US$2.5 billion figure was “not a donation”, but rather “a negotiated refinancing mechanism.”

Taiwan now only has formal diplomatic relations with 13 countries, mostly poor and developing countries in Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific. – Reuters