Taiwan warned Honduras on Monday against “flashy and false” promises by China after the Latin American nation’s main opposition party vowed to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Honduran presidential candidate Xiomara Castro earlier said she would “immediately open diplomatic and commercial relations with mainland China” if she wins elections in November.

Castro, the wife of ousted former president Manuel Zelaya, is the candidate for the main left-wing opposition Liberty and Refoundation Party.

Honduras is among only 15 countries that maintain formal relations with Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if needed.

“Our side reminds Honduras that promises by the Chinese government are usually flashy and false, and they are consistent ploys to sabotage Taiwan’s diplomatic relations with our allies,” Taipei’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Taiwan accused China on Friday of seeking to use the Honduran election to “create controversy” and undermine Taiwan’s long-standing ties with the country, saying it would strive to win support for Honduras’ relations with Taipei.

Honduras’ main left-wing opposition party, led by ousted former president Manuel Zelaya, said on Sunday if it wins November’s presidential election it will seek to “readjust” the country’s debt and establish diplomatic relations with China. read more

Honduras is one of just 15 countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China claims as its territory with no right to call itself a state.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry, which has already warned Honduras not to be drawn in by China’s “flashy and false” promises, said China has never stopped trying to undermine Taiwan’s relations with its diplomatic allies.

“Recently, it has even used the democratic election in our ally to create controversial topics and the false image of unstable diplomatic relations between our country and Honduras,” it said, without giving details.

In the face of China’s “brutal suppression” of Taiwan’s diplomatic work, the government will “take concrete actions to demonstrate our country’s assistance to the development of Honduras’ economic and social affairs, and strive for the support of Honduras’ ruling and opposition parties for Taiwan,” the ministry said.

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Honduras has had relations for eight decades with the Republic of China, Taiwan’s formal name. That pre-dates the Republican government’s evacuation to Taiwan after loosing a civil war with the Chinese Communists in 1949, who set up the People’s Republic of China in Beijing.

China’s efforts to win over Taiwan’s remaining allies have alarmed Washington, which has been especially concerned about Beijing’s growing influence in Central America and the Caribbean.

El Salvador, in 2018, was the most recent country in the region to ditch Taipei in favour of Beijing.

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By Reuters

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