Taiwan cherishes its ties with Honduras, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, after the Central American country’s president said it may be interested in establishing formal relations with China.
“If our allies want to develop trade and commercial relations with China, the Republic of China [ROC] government will not oppose it, but it does not wish to see allies take actions that could undermine our bilateral friendship,” ministry spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said in response to reports citing a statement by the Honduran presidential office on Wednesday.
“President Porfirio Lobo Sosa confirmed this Wednesday that he intends to open diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, a move that should not affect relations with Taiwan,” the statement said. “In the 21st century, one can’t keep thinking that expanding relations with one country means being the enemy of another.”
The statement came after Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Ko (柯森耀) said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Monday that the ministry was not happy to see an ally establish a trade office in China, although it did not oppose allies developing ties with Beijing.
Ko was responding to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chan Kai-chen (詹凱臣) telling the committee that Honduras and China have begun negotiations on establishing trade offices in each other’s country.
The director-general of the ministry’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, James Wu (吳進木), yesterday said that the nation’s ambassador to Honduras, Joseph Kuo (郭永樑), has requested a meeting with Honduran foreign affairs officials to seek clarification about Lobo’s statements.
“From our initial understanding, President Lobo did not mention developing ‘full diplomatic relations’ with China when he talked to reporters,” Wu said.
An official at the ministry, who asked not to be named, said Lobo has on several occasions expressed an interest in establishing diplomatic ties with China on the premise that relationships with Taiwan would remain unaffected.
Among the nation’s 12 diplomatic allies in the Caribbean and Central and South America, China has set up commercial offices in Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Panama and El Salvador have trade offices in Beijing.