A senior envoy of US President Joe Biden is to travel to Honduras and Panama this month, the US Department of State said on Thursday, two days after Honduras said it would establish formal diplomatic ties with Beijing, stoking concern that it might cut ties with Taipei.
US Special Presidential Adviser for the Americas Chris Dodd would visit the two Central American countries from yesterday to Tuesday, the department said in a statement.
The US has in the past few years focused on migration and security challenges stemming from Central America, as well as trade and development priorities, but it has also been concerned about Chinese efforts to expand its influence in the region.
Dodd, a former US senator, is to meet Honduran officials and private-sector representatives, and Panamanian officials and finance leaders, as well as attend an annual conference of the Inter-American Development Bank.
“These visits advance the commitment of the United States to foster inclusive economic growth, democracy, human rights and rule of law in the western hemisphere,” the department said.
Dodd in 2021 led a delegation to visit Taiwan on behalf of Biden, with whom he has a close relationship.
On Tuesday, Honduran President Xiomara Castro wrote on Twitter that her administration would seek diplomatic ties with Beijing, which would come at the expense of Taiwan.
Honduran Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduardo Enrique Reina on Wednesday said that the pivot to China was partly because Honduras was “up to its neck” in financial challenges and debt, including US$600 million it owes Taiwan.
Speaking to reporters in Taipei yesterday, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) reiterated a warning to Honduras not to trust China and its monetary offers.
“China has been suppressing Taiwan’s diplomacy, so it will invest funds related to specific countries in order to block Taiwan’s diplomatic development,” he said.
Chinese investment as part of its Belt and Road Initiative in these countries had mostly failed, Chen said.
“Therefore, we very much hope that Honduras can recognize the true nature of China, and hope they maintain diplomatic relations and not be deceived,” he added.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still “working hard” regarding the ties with Honduras, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) told a legislative hearing yesterday.
The nation has never given up on anything for being too difficult, he said, but added that “we will not engage in bidding-war diplomacy with China.”
China on Thursday denied that former Taiwan allies, such as Panama and El Salvador, had not benefited since forging relations with Beijing, saying they had received “tangible benefits.”
Taiwan has 13 UN-recognized diplomatic allies, including Honduras, as well as Somaliland.
Asked about the Honduras-Taiwan ties, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Taiwan has a “lot to offer.”
“Taiwan has a lot to offer, including ... in international institutions, where remarkably talented people have tremendous experience and expertise,” he said. “Countries have to decide for themselves whether and how they want to benefit from that.”
Additional reporting by Wu Su-wei and Su Yung-yao
COMMUNICATION: A US representative said that Starshield is inactive in and around Taiwan, which could put US military personnel at risk in the Western Pacific in a conflict Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) might have contravened its Pentagon contract by not providing access to its satellite communication network Starshield in and around Taiwan, a letter from a US House of Representatives committee to the company said. In September last year, the US Department of Defense awarded SpaceX a one-year contract for Starshield access, worth US$100 million. A few months before that, the Pentagon also commissioned SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network to be used by Ukrainian forces amid Russia’s invasion. Starshield is a derivative of Starlink intended for military use. SpaceX has long worked closely with the US military and intelligence agencies, which
TWO REPORTS: The body called on EU states to support the meaningful participation of Taiwan in international organizations, as well as closer cooperation with the nation The European Parliament has backed deepening ties with Taiwan and voiced concern about heightened tension across the Taiwan Strait in reports on two major security policies, which include a passage denying that Taiwan is subordinate to China. The parliament adopted the annual report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in a vote of 338 in favor, 86 against and 122 abstentions during a plenary session from Monday to yesterday. It also passed the annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defense Policy in a vote of 350 in favor, 91 against and 96 abstentions. “Neither Taiwan
WAR GAMES: While US and Japanese militaries practice coordinating troops to stage landings, Taiwan is next month to test artillery and uncrewed aerial surveillance vehicles The US Marine Corps and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force have begun a military drill to simulate the retaking of outlying islands in Kyushu and Okinawa Prefecture in a conflict scenario, the Sankei Shimbun reported yesterday. The drill, commonly known as “Iron Fist,” has been held in the US since 2006 before being moved to Japan for the first time this year, it said. The large-scale operations are conducted with a possible “Taiwan emergency” in mind, aiming to keep China in check, it said. Unlike last year’s exercises, which focused on on-site training, this year’s maneuvers include strategy formulation and command for each
NEVER FORGET: Feb. 28 is a day to demand justice and redress, and remember the long, hard road Taiwanese walked to democracy, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che said President-elect William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said he would work to safeguard the nation’s security and democracy to ensure freedom and economic prosperity, and that the tragic events of the 228 Incident “never happen in Taiwan again.” The Incident refers to the indiscriminate killing of a person in a crowd on Feb. 27, 1947, and the gunning down by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of protesters at a resulting demonstration the next day. It was followed by a brutal crackdown. Estimates of the number of eventual deaths vary from 10,000 to more than 30,000. The Incident was closely followed by the White