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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras: Economic necessity and Taiwan’s refusal to increase financial aid were behind Honduras’ decision to establish diplomatic ties with China, Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina said on Wednesday (Mar 15).

Honduras President Xiomara Castro announced on Tuesday that she had instructed Reina to “undertake the official opening of relations” with China, thus severing the Central American country’s long-standing diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

Speaking to the Canal 5 television channel, Reina said that Honduras had proposed “more important relations given the great needs of the Honduran people”, but Taiwan had refused.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the region with almost 74 per cent of its near 10 million population living in poverty.

Reina said Honduras had asked Taiwan to double its US$50 million a year of aid and also explore “realigning” its US$600 million debt to the island, but did not receive positive responses.

Honduras and Taiwan had maintained diplomatic ties for more than 80 years.

Under Beijing’s “One China” principle, no country may maintain official diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan.

Honduras is one of only 14 countries that officially recognise Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory to be retaken one day, by force if necessary.

Other Taiwan allies include Eswatini, Paraguay and the Marshall Islands.