The Central American country Honduras (Honduras, Taiwan-translated Honduras) held a presidential election on Sunday (28th). The preliminary results showed that the leader of the left-wing opposition party and the former first lady Xiomara Castro (Xiomara Castro) drastically Leading her opponent, she is expected to become the country’s first female head of state, born in 1959.
Castro has announced her victory. Her biggest opponent, Nasry Asfura, the candidate for the ruling party, expressed patience for support, but did not admit defeat.
Castro has said before that if she is elected, she will establish diplomatic relations with China and sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which has aroused great attention from both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The U.S. State Department spoke on the eve of the vote, saying that the U.S. wants Honduras to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Beijing subsequently criticized the U.S. for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and a trilateral diplomatic wrestle between the U.S., China and Taiwan emerged in Central America.
Facing the diplomatic crisis, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Zhaoxie stated in the Legislative Yuan on Monday (29th) that he has considerable confidence in the diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Honduras. He also said that Taiwan and the country’s two parties have in-depth contacts, and maintaining diplomatic relations “should not be a problem.”
Honduras is one of the 15 countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The country established diplomatic relations with the government of the Republic of China, which has not yet moved to Taiwan, in 1941. The two sides have profound diplomatic relations. Facing the diplomatic crisis, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ou Jiang’an said last week that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Honduras 80 years ago, “bilateral relations are stable and friendly”. She also reminded Honduras to “pay attention to China‘s promises of lip service.”
The country’s current president, Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, took office in 2014 and was re-elected in January 2018. He visited Taiwan on the 12th of last month and met with President Tsai Ing-wen. At that time, he reiterated that Honduras’ relations with Taiwan will not change.
The voting process in Honduras on Sunday was peaceful, but doubts among the citizens about whether the election results will be fraudulent have not disappeared. In the last presidential election, the people of the country were dissatisfied with the results, accused of fraudulent elections, launched riots in the streets, and confronted the military and police. In the end, more than 20 people died. Therefore, people from all walks of life are worried about the recurrence of riots and frequently call on all walks of life to accept the election results peacefully.
Although Castro stated that after being elected, he will establish diplomatic relations with Beijing in order to improve the national economy. But one of her core staff members told VOA last week that Castro had not made a final decision.
At the same time, an official from the U.S. State Department told reporters last week: “We have made it clear to all important actors in Honduras why we believe that the relationship between Honduras and Taiwan is so important, and we want to see this relationship continue. Everyone expresses this directly.”
However, whether Taiwan will once again lose a country with diplomatic relations is still the focus of all walks of life.
Since Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, seven countries with diplomatic relations have severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with Beijing. At present, Taiwan has 15 diplomatic countries, distributed in the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Europe (Vatican City).
In these countries that have recently severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the frequent rotation of pro-China or Taiwan-friendly parties also affects Taiwan’s diplomatic relations. Some countries with diplomatic relations have just cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan and will renew the establishment of diplomatic relations after changing their governments. There are always forces from the United States and China operating behind it.
China’s growing influence
Honduras, as one of the diplomatic countries with the longest relationship with Taiwan, is a large Central American country with a population of nearly 10 million. However, due to the new lung epidemic and natural disasters, Honduras has frequent economic and livelihood crises. According to the World Bank (The World Bank) statistics, before the new crown epidemic, 14.8% of the Honduran population could use less than US$1.9 per day for living expenses, half The population’s daily cost of living is less than US$5.5.
Therefore, every year tens of millions of people, including children, venture to smuggle into the United States via Mexico, triggering many refugee crises.
Honduras and other Central and South American countries began to seek economic support and cooperation from China because of their economic struggles. After the outbreak of the new crown, these countries even criticized the United States and other Western countries for reluctance to assist poor countries in vaccine supply, and instead considered accepting vaccines aided by China.
Analyzing China’s diplomatic deployment in Central and South America in recent years, Hong Kong’s international relations scholar Shen Xuhui explained that, in fact, through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Beijing has already signed free trade agreements with Chile and Peru. Enter the South American market”.
According to Shen Xuhui’s analysis, after the trade war started by former U.S. President Donald Trump, the South American trade market has begun to move closer to China. Complementarity, so in recent years, bilateral economic and trade relations between China and South American countries have gradually gained momentum to surpass that of the United States.”
In addition, China is also actively wooing Honduras and other Taiwan’s diplomatic countries in Central America. “The United States is actively deploying a Chinese encirclement network in the Indo-Pacific region. In fact, China’s deployment of a “siege network” in Central and South America is similar in the same way,” he added.