Ahead of Sunday’s election, the US is urging Honduras to maintain ties with Taiwan, which has angered Beijing.
Ahead of the presidential election in Honduras later this week, China is accusing the US of “bullying” as Washington reiterated that it wants the small Central American country to maintain its longstanding diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
China’s foreign ministry on Thursday accused the United States of “hand-waving and intimidating behavior” that “would not be from one’s heart and mind”.
Honduras is one of 15 countries that maintain diplomatic relations with self-governing Taiwan. China views Taiwan as its own territory, with no right of state-to-state relations, something the government in Taipei strongly rejects.
Honduras’ main opposition leftist candidate Xiomara Castro, leading in the latest voting for Sunday’s presidential election, previously said she would turn diplomatic ties over Taiwan to Beijing if she wins. But one close to him said no final decision had been taken on Tuesday.
In addition to putting pressure on Taiwan to pressure Honduran presidential candidates, a US official told Reuters news agency that Washington has warned Central American countries about “certain risks associated with China’s approach to the region”.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry thanked the US for its support of relations between Taiwan and its allies, and reiterated that the government would respect the outcome of the Honduran election.
Taiwan has warned Honduras not to be taken by China’s “lucrative and false” promises.
The relationship between the two countries dates back to 1941, before the government of the Republic of China fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War.
Asked about the United States urging Honduran candidates to maintain ties with Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the United States would not win any friends like this.
He accused Washington of “hegemonic behavior” in Central America, pointing to years of US involvement in coups and other conspiracies.
“Two hundred years later, the United States is still dreaming of the old dream and considers Latin American countries within its sphere of influence,” Legian said. “This bullying behavior is hated by Latin Americans and will certainly fail.”
America has a lot of control over what happens in Honduras. Remittances, mostly sent by people living in the US, account for more than 20 percent of Honduras’ gross domestic product (GDP), according to Data from Brookings Institute, an American research group.
This economic reality, along with substantial US aid to the country, means that Washington has considerable influence over local politicians.
According to analysts, the recent dispute between Washington and Beijing over Honduras’ diplomacy is part of an intensifying global showdown between the two superpowers.