The news of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) being invited to the inauguration of Xiomara Castro is a clear indication that the Honduran president-elect has reversed course on a campaign promise she made.
In September, Castro in a speech guaranteed that during her first 100 days in office, she would officially switch economic and diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing.
The reversal is great news for the Tsai administration and gives it some room to breathe after the Nicaraguan government unexpectedly made the diplomatic switch.
However, the good news does not stop there. At the beginning of this month, Castro’s Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) party officially announced that US Vice President Kamala Harris would also attend Thursday’s inauguration.
The unexpected development has national and international implications for Honduras. Harris’ visit is a reaffirmation that the new Central American government wants to have close ties with Washington, which is more good news for Taiwan.
The Republic of China has found in the US government the strongest deterrent to avoid its diplomatic allies from establishing ties with Beijing, thanks in great part to the 2019 US Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act.
The Washington-Tegucigalpa relationship has been complicated, to say the least. Castro has publicly said that the US government bears responsibility for the precarious conditions in Honduras, due to its alleged support of a coup d’etat that ousted her husband from the presidency in 2009 when now-US President Joe Biden was vice president.
However, this seems to have been left in the past. Reports have said that a US delegation that visited Honduras before the elections told the main political parties that the Biden administration would not accept any fraudulent results. In their meetings, they reportedly told both parties that Washington wanted Tegucigalpa to maintain ties with Taipei, with a strong relationship with the US an incentive.
The “no fraudulent results” warning was a direct jab at the National Party of Honduras, which was accused of rigging the election in 2017 to remain in power.
Those irregular results were given the green light by the administration of then-US president Donald Trump, which appeared to have given its blessing after the then-Honduran government voted against a resolution condemning Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there.
The resolution was only rejected by nine countries, including the US, and was seen by many as the reason Trump accepted the results, despite being delayed by 21 days and being found to be so irregular that the Organization of American States called for the election to be repeated.
The visit and message by the officials from the Biden administration were seen by many as tacit support for Castro’s presidency and probably why last year’s presidential election was one of the most transparent and peaceful in recent memory.
It is also a reason to be hopeful about the relationship between Honduras and Taiwan, because if Castro chooses a path of collaboration with the US rather than antagonizing it, the possibility of her administration making a diplomatic switch to China significantly decreases. This has been demonstrated by the change of tune of the president-elect’s transition team, saying that they have no intentions of making a switch.
In addition to the calm that it seems Taipei can enjoy for the next four years, there are signs that this positive triangular relationship might last even longer.
The US is in open conflict with the Chinese Communist Party. The Biden administration’s decision to leave tariffs on Chinese goods in place and continue the trade conflict started by its predecessor, to its decision to abstain from sending government officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics, make it clear that the tense situation between the countries has not changed.
Republicans share the same distrust — if anything they have been more anti-China than Democrats in the past few decades, so there is no reason to think that the attitude toward the Chinese government in the White House would change regardless of who wins the 2024 US presidential election.
The sentiment in the US will definitely have an effect on the candidates’ positions in the next Honduran presidential elections, because the influence that Washington has over Latin American politics is almost undeniable.
President Juan Orlando Hernandez opened the door to Castro to run for re-election by presiding over a second term himself, which is considered unconstitutional by many in Honduras, but could allow Castro and her party to run again.
Even if she does not, the people in Libre who could replace her as a front-runner do not seem to differ much ideologically from Castro. The most plausible option would be Honduran vice president-elect Salvador Nasralla, who is a staunch supporter of the US and has said that the relationship with Taiwan would continue because the Honduran government does not want to start a fight with Washington, its main trade ally.
Another possibility is Castro’s son Jose Manuel Zelaya, who was involved in his mother’s presidential campaign and is seen by many as a future politician.
His ideology is in line with his mother and father, and he is probably aware that in any presidential run, it would be in his best interest to maintain a good relationship with the US, given that about 23 percent of Honduras GDP comes from money that is sent to Honduras from the US and other developed countries.
If the National Party were to return to power, which seems highly unlikely given that its most charismatic figure just lost the presidential election and was almost 15 percentage points behind the winner, the Honduran relationship with the US and Taiwan would remain the same.
In addition, it seems that the incoming Honduran government’s decision to establish a good relationship with its neighbor to the north has not only given stability to the relationship between Honduras and Taiwan, but also a unique opportunity for a meeting between Taiwanese and US government officials at the highest level.
The possibility of an official meeting between the two delegations seems a bit unlikely, but it would not be unthinkable that an unofficial one might take place. Whether a meeting happens is yet to be determined, but whatever the case, there are more than enough reasons to think that the relationship between Honduras, the US and Taiwan will remain stable for years to come.
Fernando Herrera Ramos is a Honduran lawyer residing in Taiwan. He has a master’s degree in business administration.
The Jumbo Floating Restaurant was a landmark in Hong Kong for nearly half a century. The palatial restaurant, with its pastiche Chinese architecture and neon lights perfectly encapsulated the territory’s beguiling balance of East and West, tradition and modernity. It was a feature backdrop in numerous Hong Kong films. However, forced to close amid the stringent COVID-19 lockdown policies of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) and denied financial support from her government, the floating temple to Cantonese gastronomy was towed from its mooring in Aberdeen Harbour this month by its owners with its planned destination not released. On June
Ned Price, spokesperson of the United States Department of State, is a Twitter influencer at the exalted “celebrity/macro” rank. So, even though it was well after working hours on Friday evening, May 20, 2022 — as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepared for President Biden’s first presidential trip to Asia — Ned Price was sure of an audience as he “tweeted” the following message: “The PRC continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy. The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act,
Opinion polls show that Taiwan’s judicial system and law enforcement “enjoy” low approval ratings among Taiwanese. In spite of data showing low crime rates, many Taiwanese drivers have faced aggressive driving, unprovoked road rage, road blocking and unmotivated police officers. Some criminals seem to consider themselves above the law, which is not completely wrong. Reports about so-called “road blocking” can be found in newspapers or on YouTube. An example of this is when “road rowdies” block a vehicle on a road, get out of their vehicle and start to attack the occupants of the blocked vehicle — often attacking in a
An April circular by the Chinese Ministry of Education on student admission criteria at Tibetan universities has been harrowing and discriminating to say the least. The circular said that prospective students must state their “political attitude and ideological morality” to be considered for admission. It also said that students should not be involved in religious movements and students who are proficient in Marxist theory should be preferred. Since Beijing started occupying Tibet, it has meticulously introduced policies to dismantle the Tibetan education system, which is closely tied to its rich monastic tradition, and has even pulled students from Afghanistan and eastern