Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) yesterday cast doubt on the nation’s relationship with Honduras, saying that China had taken over a power plant project previously undertaken by Taiwan and that its national flag is being flown at the site.
Tsai made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee to discuss aid programs in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has participated via the International Cooperation and Development Fund.
Describing the relationship between Taiwan and Honduras as “no different from a severance of ties,” Tsai said Taiwan was “on the verge of losing an ally.”
Tsai said a hydropower plant project that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had negotiated had been taken over by China, after Taiwan had completed the infrastructure.
“China has been attempting to erode relations between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies. In Honduras, it even has its national flag flying at the site of the power plant,” Tsai said.
In response, Deputy Foreign Minister Tung Kuo-yu (董國猷) said the relationship between the two countries was “very stable.”
Alexander Yui (俞大雷), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, said the funding provided by China for the project was a business loan, not a preferential loan or a donation.
The project was halted after its budget was cut by the legislature, Yui said, adding that Taiwan did not help with infrastructure construction.
Taiwan only participated in an assessment of a Taiwanese-proposed design at the planning stage of the hydropower project and not the construction stage, Yui said.
Construction is being undertaken by Chinese contractors with US$300 million in funding offered by China and NT$50 million from Honduras, while two technicians from Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) serve as consultants and offer technical assistance when necessary, Yui said.
According to the legislature’s Gazette, several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers initiated a cut to the NT$360 million (US$12.05 million) budget proposed for the project in Taipower’s annual budget in 2009, saying that the project was not cost-effective and that it could cause the company’s already bad fiscal situation to get even worse.