China and Honduras began formal diplomatic relations on Sunday, with Taiwan accusing Beijing of “coercion and intimidation” to lure away its few remaining allies.
China’s announcement of the move came shortly after Honduras said it had officially severed ties with Taipei.
“The two Governments have decided to recognise each other and establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level”, effective immediately, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The switch cuts to 13 the number of countries that still diplomatically recognise Taiwan, which has lost several Latin American allies in recent years.
China considers self-ruled, democratic Taiwan a part of its territory, to be retaken one day — by force, if necessary. Under its ‘One China’ policy, it does not allow countries to recognise both Beijing and Taipei.
In Beijing, Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang signed a joint communique, according to video published by state media CCTV.
“China welcomes (Honduran) President Xiomara Castro to visit China at an early date,” said Qin.
Earlier, Reina said that upon Castro’s instructions he had “communicated to Taiwan the decision to cease diplomatic relations”.
“The government of the Republic of Honduras recognises the existence of only one China in the world, and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China,” the ministry said.
“Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory.”
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said the switch was “part of… China’s coercion and intimidation” of Taipei’s allies.
“China has suppressed the international space of (Taiwan) for a long time, unilaterally endangering regional peace and stability,” read a statement from her office.
In Beijing, Qin said China “sternly admonish(ed)” Taiwan’s government for “engaging in activities that promote Taiwanese independence and separatism”.
There, Reina and Qin had clinked champagne glasses in front of their countries’ flags. But in Taipei, officials at the foreign ministry had removed the blue-and-white banners of their former ally.