(Beijing) China and Honduras established diplomatic relations on Sunday, a setback for Taiwan, which is still losing an ally and denounces Beijing’s “coercion and intimidation”.

Tegucigalpa had announced a few hours earlier the severance of its ties with Taipei, which is now only recognized by 13 states in the world.

“China and Honduras have just established diplomatic relations,” tweeted Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China considers the island of Taiwan, with a population of 23 million, to be one of its provinces, which it has yet to reunite with the rest of its territory since the end of the civil war. Chinese.

In seven decades, the communist army could never conquer the island, which remained under the control of the “Republic of China”, which once ruled all of China and now only rules Taiwan.

During a ceremony in Beijing, Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina signed with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang a document acknowledging the establishment of diplomatic relations.

They then toasted in front of a row of flags from their countries.

“We would be delighted to welcome (Honduran) President Xiomara Castro to China as soon as possible,” Qin Gang said, welcoming bilateral relations “which will benefit both countries and their peoples.”

“Let us send this message to the Taiwan authorities: promoting independence and separatism in Taiwan, going against the will and interests of the Chinese nation…is a dead end,” he said. .

In a statement from his ministry released on Saturday evening, Enrique Reina said he had notified Taiwan of “the decision to sever diplomatic relations”.

In response, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Sunday accused Honduras of “deluding” China’s promises of economic aid.

During a press conference in Taipei, he also accused Tegucigalpa of overbidding in recent weeks in order to obtain funding.

On March 15, Enrique Reina invoked the “enormous needs” of Honduras in economic matters and the refusal of Taiwan to increase its aid to justify the desire to establish relations with Beijing.

“The severance of diplomatic relations between our country and Honduras is part of a series of coercion and intimidation by China,” responded the office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

In a Facebook post, she called the severing of ties with Tegucigalpa “regrettable”.

“We’re not going to get into a meaningless battle with China of doing checkbook diplomacy” to retain allies, she stressed.

“It is important to note that (China) often makes, in exchange for diplomatic recognition, promises that ultimately go unfulfilled,” reacted the American Institute in Taiwan – the de facto US embassy in Taiwan. ‘island.

Chinese authorities have sought to diplomatically isolate Taiwan since Ms. Tsai came to power in 2016.

She comes from a party traditionally in favor of independence. An absolute red line for Beijing, which threatens to intervene militarily to prevent such a scenario and has increased its economic and military pressure on the island.

In recent years, Beijing had already removed several Latin American allies from Taipei.

This new diplomatic setback comes as Tsai Ing-wen is due to leave on Wednesday for a trip to two of his last allies, Belize and Guatemala.

She should stop in the United States, an initiative condemned by Beijing.

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy said he would meet Ms Tsai in California, with the US State Department saying the planned trip was a “transit” rather than a “visit”.