A visiting US delegation on Wednesday made clear to both of the leading presidential candidates in Honduras’ election on Sunday that Washington wants the country to maintain its long-standing diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a senior US Department of State official said.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said that Washington has warned Central American nations of “some of the risks associated with China’s approach to the region.”
Xiomara Castro, the main opposition candidate, who was leading in the latest polls, has previously said that if victorious, she would switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to Beijing, but one of her aides said on Tuesday that no final decision had been made.
“We’ve been quite clear with all the key actors in Honduras why we think the Honduras-Taiwan relationship is so important,” a US Department of State official told reporters in a telephone briefing.
“We’d like to see that continue. We’ve said that to both of the leading candidates directly,” the official said, referring to meetings with a delegation led by US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Brian Nichols.
In Taipei yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the US and reiterated its commitment to Honduras.
Taiwan and the US share universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement, adding that it thanked Washington for urging Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to maintain ties.
Since the relationship between Taiwan and Honduras began 80 years ago, ties have been steady and friendly, Ou said.
The ministry is fully aware of China’s ceaseless attempts to sabotage Taiwan’s diplomatic efforts, she said.
The ministry would work closely with the US and other like-minded countries to foster prosperous development in Honduras and elsewhere in Central America, she said.
Ou reiterated the ministry’s respect for Honduras’ elections, saying that it would develop practical and mutually beneficial ties with any new government in Tegucigalpa.
In Beijing, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the US of “arm-twisting” after the delegation made it clear that Washington wants Honduras to maintain its ties with Taiwan.
Chinese ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said that the US would not win any friends this way.
“This arm-twisting and bullying behavior will not win any hearts and minds,” Zhao told reporters.
People in Central America should watch out for the US’ “hegemonic behavior,” Zhao said, pointing to US involvement in coups and other plots in the region.
“Two hundred years on, the United States is still dreaming the old dream and treating Latin American countries as within its sphere of influence,” he said. “This bullying behavior is abhorred by Latin Americans and will surely fail.”
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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