The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) was baffled yesterday by a statement made by Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa indicating his intention to establish diplomatic ties with China, but remained confident that Taiwan’s relationship with its Central American ally remained strong.
The bilateral relationship with Honduras remains “normal” and “solid” and “will not be affected” even if the country moves to develop economic and trade relations with China, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said.
The statement was posted on the Web site of the Presidential Office of Honduras on Wednesday last week, two days after Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Ko (柯森耀) said that while the ministry was not happy to see an ally establish a trade office in China, it did not oppose allies developing economic ties with Beijing.
However, Lobo’s statement said that he intends to begin diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, not just trade ties.
Ambassador to Honduras Joseph Kuo (郭永樑) met with Honduran Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales Alvarez and an official at Lobo’s office on Friday, the ministry said.
Kuo received “assurances” from the Lobo administration that the country had yet to finalize a plan to set up a trade office in China and that its ties to Taiwan remain solid and will not be affected by Tegucigalpa forging an economic and trade relationship with Beijing, Lin said.
Corrales made it very clear to Kuo that Honduras’ relationship with China will not have repercussions on its relationship with Taiwan, Lin said.
“Those are clear-cut and important assurances. Corrales offered the assurances on behalf of the Honduran government, the president and the vice president,” Lin said.
However, the ministry was unable to explain the discrepancy between Lobo’s statement and the information Kuo received from Corrales and the Honduran presidential office.
The director-general of the ministry’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, Jaime Wu (吳進木), said the ministry expects to learn more about Lobo’s China policy after Kuo meets with Lobo “in a day or two.”
Asked to interpret whether the Honduran president had suggested the possibility of his country seeking diplomatic ties with Taiwan and China, Lin said that was a hypothetical question.
Lin said that Taipei does not consider it acceptable for it’s diplomatic allies to recognize China while maintaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
“We don’t think double recognition is acceptable and we don’t think that will happen,” Lin said.
The principle guiding President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “flexible diplomacy” has been that Taiwan and China do not attempt to poach each other’s diplomatic allies, Lin said.