China opens talks with Honduras, promises debt relief

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he was willing to begin trade talks with Honduras “as soon as possible.” Honduras’ President Xiomara Castro is on a six-day venture to China to discuss trade for the first time since the countries solidified diplomatic relations in March after Xi cut ties with Taiwan, per Reuters.

Castro is reportedly looking to relieve some of Honduras’ debt by entering into a relationship with the Eastern power. Xi praised Castro for making good on her promise, saying: “You have resolutely fulfilled your election promise of establishing diplomatic relations with China, made a historic decision, and demonstrated your firm political will.”

As a result of the relationship, Xi has agreed to promote Honduran products within the Chinese market. One product that was confirmed for import was Whiteleg shrimp from the Central American country.

The report mentioned that China has encouraged Chinese enterprises to engage in Honduras’ infrastructure, energy, and telecommunications projects. In return, Honduras has offered to provide policy support and facilitation. However, it is not clear what they would provide these services for.

Honduras is one of three countries in Central America that make up the Northern Triangle, which includes El Salvador and Guatemala. While the area has been among the most violent and economically poor in the Western Hemisphere, China and the US have been attempting to leverage these countries to their advantage.

In May 2021, The White House released a statement that Vice President Kamala Harris had issued a Call to Action for businesses and social enterprises to make a commitment to do business in the Northern Triangle, as a signal of hope for those fleeing or suffering under the poor economic conditions in the region.

As a result, there were 12 businesses that had committed to doing just that, including Accion, Bancolombia, Chobani, Davivienda, Duolingo, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Mastercard, Microsoft, Nespresso, Pro Mujer, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and the World Economic Forum.

However, China has been making moves of its own in the region. Not only has China secured a firm diplomatic relationship with Honduras, El Salvador had established free trade talks with Beijing in 2022, which would reportedly see the Central American country see relief from its poor economic conditions. But Guatemala has retained its commitment to Taiwan, which makes it one of 13 countries that currently choose Taiwan over China. The other 12 countries are members of the United Nations.  

China has also urged Honduras to uphold the “One-China” principle, suggesting that Honduras should not recognize Taiwan as a separate national entity from the Chinese mainland. Previously, Honduras had a decades-long relationship with Taiwan, before the island country’s foreign minister suggested that the Central American country had been lured away by Beijing.

Xi said: “One-China principle is the primary premise and political foundation for the establishment of loyal diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral relations.”

China has consistently claimed that Taiwan is part of its territory, but Taipei has rejected this claim. As a result, China conducted military drills around the island country’s shores in early April, sending warships and aircraft near the country.

In late May, China cut Taiwan’s internet, leaving thousands of citizens without a way to use their credit or communicate with one another. Additionally, China barred Taiwan’s US ambassador from gaining entry into the mainland, which came after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in early April. Because China claims that Taiwan is part of its own territory, Beijing does not recognize state-to-state talks between Taiwan and foreign powers.

Image: Title: china honduras