Honduras is appreciative for Taiwan’s assistance and intends to sustain their connection, said President-elect Xiomara Castro on Wednesday after meeting Taiwan Vice President William Lai, who is visiting the nation to strengthen ties.
Honduras is one of just 14 nations that have formal diplomatic ties with China’s self-proclaimed Taiwan. During her presidential campaign, Castro discussed the notion of leaving Taipei for Beijing.
China has increased pressure on Taiwan to diminish its international footprint, claiming that the democratically controlled island is Chinese territory with no right to state-to-state relations.
In comments to Taiwanese media after meeting Lai, who is in Honduras for the presidential inauguration, Castro thanked Taiwan.
“The people of Honduras are always grateful to the people of Taiwan for their support that they have always given us,” she said, in a video clip carried by Taiwan’s official Central News Agency. “We have worked together hand in hand for many years and hope to maintain this relationship.”
Lai had been due to hold formal talks with Castro and deliver materials to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but that was cancelled, the Central News Agency said, adding they met later for about seven minutes.
Lai told Castro that Taiwan would increase its cooperation with Honduras and promote their friendship, the report added.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is also going to Castro’s inauguration, potentially giving Lai a chance to meet her, though U.S. officials have suggested to Reuters that there will not be a formal meeting.
In the run-up to the November election, a visiting U.S. delegation to Honduras made clear it wanted the Central American country to maintain its Taiwan relations.
The United States has worried about growing Chinese influence in its back yard.
China has been stepping up efforts to win over Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies, last month re-establishing relations with Nicaragua, a neighbour of Honduras, and has openly said it is aiming to reduce the number to zero.