China has taken a significant step to confront Australia’s ally, the US, reminding Washington that any attempts to challenge Beijing on Taiwan are “doomed to fail.”

Honduras established diplomatic ties with China on Sunday after cutting ties with Taiwan, which has become increasingly isolated and is now recognized by just 13 sovereign nations.

The foreign ministers of China and Honduras signed a joint communiqué in Beijing – a decision the Chinese foreign ministry hailed as “the right choice”.

Australia locked in strategic battle

Diplomatic victory for China comes as Australia finds itself at the center of a global strategic battle, with confirmation of its landmark AUKUS deal cementing Canberra’s relationship with the US. The Albanian government is also acting quickly to ensure it does not lose its footing in the increasingly important Pacific, as Foreign Minister Penny Wong signed a security agreement with Kiribati last month.

China has long criticized Australia and the US alliance.  Source: Getty/AAP

China has long criticized Australia and the US alliance. Source: Getty/AAP

Tensions between Beijing and the United States continue to mount, including over China’s increasing assertiveness over self-governing Taiwan, and signal growing Chinese influence in Latin America. The new China-Honduras ties were announced after the Honduran and Taiwanese governments separately announced they would sever ties.

China and Taiwan have been locked in a struggle for diplomatic recognition since they split in a civil war in 1949, with Beijing spending billions to win recognition for its “One China” policy.

China claims Taiwan is part of its territory, to be taken under its control by force if necessary, and refuses most contacts with countries that have formal ties with the island democracy. It threatens countries with retaliatory measures just for increasing their contacts.

Nations supporting Taiwan independence “against the trend of history,” China warns

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said the relationship-building proves that sticking to the “one China” policy is winning people’s hearts and is “the general trend.”

“We strictly inform the Taiwanese authorities that engaging in separatist activities for Taiwan’s independence goes against the will and interests of the Chinese nation and against the trend of history, and is doomed to an impasse,” he said.

The Honduran Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Twitter that its government recognizes “only one China in the world” and that Beijing is “the only legitimate government representing all of China.”

Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang toast at a ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, March 26, 2023, following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.  Greg Baker/Pool via REUTERS

Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang raise a toast after establishing diplomatic relations. Source: Reuters

She added, “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and to date, the Honduran government has informed Taiwan of the termination of diplomatic ties and promised not to have any official ties or contacts with Taiwan.”

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told a news conference on Sunday that Taiwan had severed its ties with Honduras to “preserve its sovereignty and dignity.”

Wu said that Honduran President Xiomara Castro and her team have always had a “fantasy” about China and raised the issue of a shift in ties ahead of Honduras’ 2021 presidential election. Taiwan-Honduras relations were once stable, he said, but China hasn’t stopped luring Honduras.

Honduras has asked Taiwan for billions of dollars in aid and compared its proposals with China’s, Wu said. About two weeks ago, the Honduran government asked Taiwan for $2.45 billion to build a hospital and dam and write off debt, he added.

“The Castro government has rejected our nation’s long-standing aid and ties and held talks to establish diplomatic ties with China. Our government feels pained and regretted,” he said.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said her government “will not engage in meaningless dollar diplomacy competition with China.”

China’s promise of financial aid an ‘illusion’, expert warns

Analysts have warned of the impact of the newly formed China-Honduras relationship. Honduran political scientist Graco Pérez said Beijing’s narrative would emphasize benefits, including investment and job creation, “but it will all be illusory.”

Pérez noted that some other countries have developed such relationships, but “it didn’t turn out to be what was offered.”

For decades, China has poured billions of dollars into capital and infrastructure projects across Latin America. This investment has led to growing Chinese power and a growing number of allies.

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