The Hondurans are about to leave Taipei and go over to the Chinese side. Since 2016, Xi Jinping has already wrested eight diplomatic allies from the Taiwanese. The reflectors also point to Paraguay. Taiwan is not sitting idly by: it could win diplomatic recognition from the Micronesian government, which wants to break with China.
Beijing () – A real “diplomatic war” is underway between China and Taiwan, willing to wrest formal recognition from each other from other states. Honduran President Xiomara Castro declared yesterday that she had instructed her foreign minister to establish official diplomatic relations with China.
Although the leader of Tegucigalpa did not clarify whether the measure will imply a break in diplomatic relations with Taipei, this outcome will be inevitable. China considers Taiwan a “rogue province” and has never ruled out retaking it by force. The island has been de facto independent from Beijing since 1949; at the time, Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists found refuge there after losing the mainland’s civil war to the communists, making it the heir to the Republic of China founded in 1912.
The Chinese government does not establish formal diplomatic ties with another State if it does not disown Taiwan’s statehood. Before his election victory in November 2021, Castro had declared his intention to break with Taipei to embrace Beijing, a purpose he had later apparently shelved.
With the eventual break, Taipei would maintain full diplomatic relations with only 13 states, including the Vatican. Since the current Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, who in the eyes of the Chinese leadership is a dangerous secessionist, took power in 2016, Beijing has wrested eight diplomatic partners from the island: Burkina Faso, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, Republic Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Nicaragua (the latter in December 2021).
Honduras would be the ninth, while rumors have been circulating for some time about Chinese pressure on the Holy See as well. Paraguay could also go over to the Chinese side if opposition candidate Efraín Alegre wins the presidential election in April.
The Chinese strategy consists of further restricting Taiwan’s international space, which is nevertheless willing to respond. In recent days, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, David Panuelo, announced his government’s willingness to establish diplomatic relations with Taipei and break them with Beijing. He noted “in all sincerity” that the change would be accompanied by a Taiwanese outlay of $50 million for his nation’s financial needs.
On March 9, Panuelo sent a letter to his colleagues in the South Pacific accusing Beijing of waging a “political war” against his government, involving bribery attempts and espionage operations.
Micronesia has a free association agreement with the United States and is one of the South Pacific island states that rejected China’s offer of a grand regional trade and security pact in May.