This article by Ben Norton, which first appeared on Geopolitical Economy Report, reports on the recent announcement by Honduran President Xiomara Castro that her government intends to recognize the People’s Republic of China – one of the planks of her election campaign in 2021.
Ben provides a useful overview of US imperialism’s engagement with Honduras in recent times, including its sponsorship of a military coup in 2009, which overthrew the leftist government of Manuel Zelaya and installed a reactionary, repressive regime that was all too willing to submit to US pressure. Ben further notes that Taiwan has meddled in Honduran elections in support of the right-wing National Party.
Meanwhile, Honduras remains one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, with roughly three-quarters of its population living in poverty. Its population will no doubt benefit greatly from deeper ties with China. Such ties have certainly been beneficial to neighboring Nicaragua: “China is helping Nicaragua expand its public housing program, building thousands of homes for poor and working families. Beijing has also signed agreements to develop infrastructure, hospitals, and renewable energy.”
We hope that Honduras is able to make rapid progress on recognizing the PRC and developing broad economic, diplomatic and cultural ties.
The government of Honduras has announced that it is breaking formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and recognizing the People’s Republic of China.
Honduras’ leftist President Xiomara Castro had pledged during her 2021 campaign that, if she won the election, she would recognize China. This March, she fulfilled that promise.
This means that just 12 United Nations member states have formal diplomatic relations with the so-called “Republic of China” on the island of Taiwan.
The other 99.51% of the global population live in countries that formally recognize that there is only one China, and that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China.
These 12 UN member states that recognize Taiwan have a combined population of only 38.9 million – representing just 0.49% of the global population of 8 billion.
The following list consists of the countries that still do not have formal relations with the People’s Republic of China, accompanied by the size of their populations, according to CIA World Factbook data:
12 UN member states:
Guatemala – 17.98 million
Haiti – 11.47 million
Paraguay – 7.44 million
Eswatini – 1.13 million
Belize – 419,137
Saint Lucia – 167,591
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – 100,804
Marshall Islands – 80,966
Saint Kitts and Nevis – 54,817
Palau – 21,779
Tuvalu – 11,639
Nauru – 9,852
Non UN member:
Vatican City – c. 1000
Even the United States technically recognizes that Taiwan is part of China, at least on paper.
Washington signed Three Communiqués with Beijing when the governments normalized diplomatic relations. The first communiqué, signed in 1972, stated clearly:
The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position.
Despite its legal commitments, Washington has been gradually increasing its support for separatist forces in Taiwan.
The US military has deployed troops on Taiwan island, and sold it billions of dollars of weapons. Top US officials like former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have also made provocative trips to the Chinese province, backing separatists.
Honduras’ new leftist government breaks ties with Taiwan
Xiomara Castro (of no relation to Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro) made this historic announcement on March 14.
In a tweet, Castro said, “I have instructed Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina to arrange the opening of official relations with the People’s Republic of China, as a demonstration of my determination to fulfill the Plan of Government and expand the frontiers of liberty in concert with the nations of the world”.
Castro’s decision enraged US politicians.
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy tweeted threateningly, “The Honduran people will suffer because of her failed leadership”.
In a subsequent interview explaining the decision, Reina said that China has offered to help Honduras economically.
There are “great needs that the Honduran people have”, and, “Unfortunately, the needs are enormous, and we have not seen this response” from Taiwan, the foreign minister emphasized.
Reina also noted that Honduras is trapped in billions of dollars of odious debt owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other US-dominated institutions, and China could potentially ease this burden.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. Roughly three-quarters (74%) of its population of 10 million live in poverty.
The United States sponsored a military coup in Honduras in 2009, which overthrew the country’s democratically elected left-wing President Manuel Zelaya and installed a brutally repressive right-wing regime.
This ultra-conservative coup regime, which was closely linked to drug trafficking, ran Honduras with an iron first from 2009 until the end of 2021. Poverty skyrocketed, and violence and organized crime became such systemic problems that Honduras had the highest murder rate on Earth.
Meanwhile, the coup regime, which blatantly stole two elections, enjoyed the staunch support of not only the United States, but also Taiwan.
In fact, during the November 2021 vote, Taiwan meddled in Honduras’ elections. Honduran activists published photos and videos across social media that showed Taiwan providing aid to the right-wing National Party, the party of the coup regime.
Taiwan has been similarly meddling in the political system of Honduras’ western neighbor, Guatemala, pressuring the country to maintain diplomatic relations.
The Associated Press reported in 2022 that Taiwan paid Guatemala $900,000 to hire a top ally of Donald Trump to lobby in Washington on behalf of its right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei, a notoriously corrupt millionaire and dual citizen of Italy.
Nicaragua’s Sandinista government forms close alliance with China
Honduras’ southern neighbor, Nicaragua, on the other hand, has a leftist government led by the Sandinista Front.
In 2021, Nicaragua broke ties with Taiwan, recognizing the People’s Republic of China. Since then, Managua and Beijing have become close allies, and the two governments are negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement.
China is helping Nicaragua expand its public housing program, building thousands of homes for poor and working families. Beijing has also signed agreements to develop infrastructure, hospitals, and renewable energy.
Nicaragua has even made plans with China to construct an interoceanic canal, which would challenge the monopoly of the Panama Canal and offer enormous economic opportunities for the Central American nation.
Nicaragua’s revolutionary Sandinista government had first recognized China back in the 1980s, but after a decade of a CIA-sponsored Contra terror war and an illegal US blockade against Nicaragua, a right-wing regime came to power in 1990, which reveretd to diplomatic relations with Taiwan.