China’s Foreign Ministry accused the US of “arm-twisting” after a US delegation stated that Washington wants Honduras to keep its long-standing diplomatic relations with Taiwan when it votes this weekend.
According to a US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Washington has also warned Central American nations about “some of the risks associated with China’s approach to the region.”
Xiomara Castro, the main opposition leftist candidate who is currently leading in the latest polls for this month’s presidential election, has previously stated that if elected, she would switch diplomatic relations to Beijing over Taiwan. However, one of her close advisers stated on Tuesday that no final decision had been made.
When asked about the US telling Honduran candidates to maintain relations with Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the US would not make any friends this way.
“This arm-twisting and bullying won’t win any hearts and minds,” he told reporters in Beijing.
People in Central America should watch out for the United States’ “hegemonic behavior”, Zhao added, pointing to U.S. involvement over the years in coups and other plots.
“Two hundred years on, the United States is still dreaming the old dream and treating Latin American countries as within its sphere of influence. This bullying behavior is abhorred by Latin Americans and will surely fail.”
Honduras is one of 15 countries that maintains diplomatic relations with self-ruled Taiwan. China views Taiwan as its own territory, with no right to state-to-state ties, a view the government in Taipei strongly rejects.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed its thanks to the United States for its support for ties between Taiwan and its allies, and reiterated the government will respect the outcome of the Honduran election.
Taiwan has warned Honduras not to be taken in by China’s “flashy and false” promises.
The two have a relationship dating back to 1941, before the Republic of China government fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war.
China’s efforts have alarmed and angered Washington, which is concerned about Beijing’s growing international influence.