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10 Jun, 2023 01:10

Latin American leader visits China after severing Taiwan ties

President Xiomara Castro seeks to open up new “horizons” for Honduras
Latin American leader visits China after severing Taiwan ties

Honduran President Xiomara Castro has followed through on her government’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing and cut off ties with Taiwan, making her first visit to China for talks with the Central American country’s powerful new ally.

Castro arrived in Shanghai on Friday, starting a six-day visit to the Chinese mainland that reportedly will include a meeting with President Xi Jinping. She said earlier this week that she would make the trip at the invitation of Xi in the hope of building “new political, scientific, technical, commercial and cultural horizons” for Honduras.

Castro’s administration announced in March that Honduras had severed ties with Taiwan after decades of engagement with the island, which Beijing claims as a breakaway province and sovereign Chinese territory. “The government of Honduras recognizes the existence of just one China in the world, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China,” the Honduran Foreign Ministry said at the time.

The move left Taipei with full diplomatic recognition from just 13 countries worldwide and marked the ninth defection since Tsai Ing-wen took office as Taiwanese president in 2016. It also suggested that Honduras is pivoting away from Washington geopolitically, having shrugged off US pressure not to align with Beijing over Taiwan. Honduras followed three other Central American countries – Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua – in switching diplomatic allegiance.

Castro, who took office in January 2022 as Honduras’ first female president, is reportedly scheduled to attend the inauguration of the Honduran embassy in Beijing during her trip. She aims to sign “auspicious agreements” with the PRC, the Honduran Foreign Ministry said in March.

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