16th March 2023 – (Tegucigalpa) On Tuesday (15th March), President Xiomara Castro of Honduras announced that the Central American country had decided to establish diplomatic ties with China, effectively ending its long-standing diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. This move was driven by the country’s economic needs and its frustration with Taiwan’s refusal to increase its financial aid.
According to Global Times, the decision, which comes amidst fundamental issues such as “one China,” national sovereignty, and the welfare of its people, is significant, as it underscores the need for countries to make independent decisions based on their own interests and not on the whims of external powers.
Taiwan, considered an inalienable part of China’s territory, is a highly sensitive issue. The Chinese government is recognised as the sole legal representation of the whole of China, as per international law and the consensus of the international community. However, a few countries are still confused about this. According to Pan Deng, executive director of the Latin American and Caribbean Region Law Centre of China University of Political Science and Law, the main reason for this is the interference of the US, a country that is half a world away from China.
During the 2021 Honduras election campaigns, Castro expressed her desire to foster ties with Beijing. However, the U.S. sent a high-level delegation to the country prior to the election to express its expectation that Honduras would maintain “diplomatic” ties with Taiwan.
Observers argue that the U.S. interference is obstructing leaders of some countries from making correct decisions. This interference is hurting the Chinese Mainland’s interests, as countries such as Honduras and their people are being pushed away from China’s vast market and the development dividends of the Belt and Road Initiative. Pan notes that these countries and their people are paying the price for the U.S.’ selfishness.
The Monroe Doctrine, which marks its 200th anniversary in 2023, has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America for centuries. This doctrine views Latin America as its “backyard” and forces regional countries to behave according to US’ will via interference, coercion, and cajolery, stopping them from engaging in friendly cooperation with other countries worldwide. Latin America has long been plagued by high inequality and low growth and has been in urgent need of development. However, the US, its closest neighbour, has not provided the region with development opportunities. Instead, it has attempted to subvert certain governments and incite colour revolutions.
In 2020, the US passed the TAIPEI Act, which stipulates that Washington will consider “altering its economic, security, and diplomatic engagement with nations that take serious or significant actions to undermine the security or prosperity of Taiwan.” Observers believe that this act is designed to intimidate countries that want to cut ties with Taiwan. However, even if those countries have “diplomatic” relations with Taiwan, they have not sold their sovereignty to either the US or the island and should be able to make their own choices.
China, on the other hand, has been displaying a completely different style. The unexpected announcement of the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing is a testament to this. China provides the international community with an approach that differs from group politics and forced Westernisation, yet with fairness and justice. Developing countries, the Global South, and countries that are fed up with US intervention are now seeing a bright future through China’s diplomatic philosophy and practice.
Shen Yi, a professor at Fudan University, notes that China has demonstrated the ability to contribute constructive global public goods. A growing number of countries have formed a new understanding of China as well as relations with China, indicating a trend towards independent decision-making and away from U.S. interference.
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has stated his intention to meet with Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen during her transit stop in California, despite objections from the majority of Taiwan residents. However, observers note that the meeting will be nothing more than a “petty clown show” following Honduras’ recent announcement to switch its recognition to the One China policy. This move indicates that the US is running out of tricks to play in its “Taiwan card” strategy.
A recent poll conducted in Taiwan showed that 85% of residents do not support McCarthy’s visit, highlighting that the US strategy is not generating the desired outcomes and is losing the hearts and minds of Taiwan’s people. Furthermore, the US will struggle to stop Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies from recognising the trend of the times and aligning with the right side of history.