(Reuters/WINN – The U.S. government said it “respects” Honduras’ decision to move towards establishing formal diplomatic ties with China, the Honduran foreign minister said on Monday after a meeting with U.S. officials, comments Taiwan disputed.
Enrique Reina said Honduras’ President Xiomara Castro made “general comments” on the decision during the meeting attended by different officials such as U.S. Special Presidential Adviser for the Americas Chris Dodd.
Castro announced last week the country would seek diplomatic ties with Beijing, a move that risks further reducing Taiwan’s pool of allies as China does not allow countries with which it has diplomatic relations to maintain official ties with Taiwan.
The U.S. State Department warned Honduras then that China makes many promises that are unfulfilled.
Reina has said that the pivot to China was partly because Honduras was “up to its neck” in financial challenges and debt – including $600 million it owes Taiwan.
But the Premier of Nevis, Honourable Mark Brantley, says he believes that the answer to that situation and the matter of diplomatic policy lies in the power of the United States.
Other than tapping into Taiwan’s diplomatic sources and taking them away, China has increased military threats in Taiwan’s air and sea spaces to regain control over the territory.
Due to the growing conflict between Taiwan and China, US President Joseph Biden warned that America would defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression.
However, while military support is important to Taiwan, Premier Brantley questioned America’s role in securing Taiwan’s diplomatic future.
“My question is not so much what China and Taiwan are seeking to do because here, in every sense, we have a David and Goliath scenario.
“My question is, what is the United States doing? It is one thing to talk about the military build-up and a pact now to supply nuclear submarines to Australia; it is one thing to develop military bases in that part of the world; it is one thing to save a rattle and to say if China were to make a move, that the United States would go to war over Taiwan; “but what is happening on the diplomatic front?
“That is my question, and it is a question that I asked even as I led the diplomatic efforts for this country for seven years. What is the United States doing to encourage allies of Taiwan to remain allies of Taiwan, because certainly, as Taiwan doesn’t have the capacity to match China, [the] United States has that capacity and more? The occasional phone call from somebody in the United States Government to say, “hold strain, we want you to remain friends with Taiwan,” with respect, “that is not enough”, Brantley stated.
Considering that countries are increasingly ending ties with Taiwan and forming diplomatic relations with China, Premier Brantley suggests that America engage with the allies of Taiwan in a positive and proactive way to curb the ongoing diplomatic situation.
“The US needs to engage not only with Taiwan but with Taiwan’s remaining allies around the world in a proactive and positive way, or it runs the risk of Taiwan being increasingly isolated diplomatically, and that is of no value to Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, it is of no value to the United States itself and its own geopolitical interest.”
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands, and the Dominican Republic are some of the countries that have cut ties with Taiwan over the past decade. As a matter of fact, with the recent disclosure by President Xiomara Castro that Honduras is cutting ties with Taiwan, only two nations from the Central American isthmus remain as Taiwan allies; Guatemala and Belize.
Honduras’ decision has also reduced Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to 13. Of them, is St. Kitts and Nevis, which celebrates, in 2023, 40 years of diplomatic relationship with Taiwan since its independence in 1983.
Brantley said the unfolding situation between Taiwan and China should be a matter of interest not only to large countries but also to the Federation.
Just as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine significantly impacts the Caribbean region, so can the China-Taiwan conflict. Brantley suggests that small democratic nations like St. Kitts and Nevis support what is right, support democracy worldwide and speak up when democracy is threatened.
“We must, in my view, be especially prepared to speak up for our friends, and Taiwan has not only been a friend to St. Kitts and Nevis. Taiwan has been our best friend. I say that with no water in my mouth because I think the evidence is there to demonstrate that Taiwan has been our best friend, from infrastructural development to human development to investment in Healthcare, investment in ICT, and investment in Agriculture. Taiwan has, over the last 40 years, been a true friend to St. Kitts and Nevis.”