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Diplomatic ties with Taiwan have become a focal point in Central America, where Beijing is looking to deepen ties.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro has said she wants her country to establish official diplomatic relations with China in a bid that would end official relations with the self-governing island of Taiwan.
Castro, who said during her 2021 election campaign that she would switch ties with Beijing before coming back later, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night that she had instructed her foreign minister to begin the process of recognizing the People’s Republic of China.
The move was “a sign of my determination to comply with the government’s plan and expand the borders freely,” she wrote.
Some of the last few countries to recognize democratic Taiwan over China are in Central America and the Pacific. Beijing has been trying to deepen ties with Taipei’s remaining allies since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016 and several Pacific nations, including the Solomon Islands, made the switch in 2019.
In Central America, a region the United States has long considered to be within its sphere of influence, Nicaragua severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2021. If Honduras makes the switch, Taiwan will be left with just 13 formal diplomatic allies around the world. , compared to 22 when Tsai took office.
“Central American recognition of Taiwan is a legacy of the Cold War,” Bruno Binetti, a doctoral student at the London School of Economics and an expert on Chinese relations in Latin America, told Al Jazeera in emailed comments. “A lot has changed since then, including China’s spectacular economic rise. Decades ago, Taiwan was actually a more attractive economic partner than China. That is ancient history, Taiwan simply cannot compete with the huge Chinese market.”
Tsai, seen by Beijing as a “separatist,” has previously accused China of “dollar diplomacy” over the issue of diplomatic recognition, also excluding Taipei, formally known as the Republic of China, from international bodies such as the World Health Organization. Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The ROC government was established in Taipei at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the communists established the People’s Republic of China in Beijing.
Beijing claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, with no right to interstate ties, and does not rule out the use of force to achieve its goals.