(Tegucigalpa) Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina on Wednesday cited Honduras’ “enormous (economic) needs” and Taiwan’s refusal to increase aid as justification for establishing relations with Beijing.

Honduras will establish “official relations with the People’s Republic of China”, its president Xiomara Castro (left) announced on Tuesday. A decision hailed by Beijing, but which threatens the ties that Taiwan has had with this Central American country for more than 80 years.

Honduras has offered Taiwan to have “greater relations with Tegucigalpa, in line with the great needs of the Honduran people,” but the response has not been positive, Reina told local Canal 5 television.

“Unfortunately, the needs are enormous and we have not seen a response” from Taipei, regretted the head of diplomacy of Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, including 74% of its nearly ten million people live below the poverty line.

Mrs. Castro’s government has asked Taiwan to double its aid to Honduras from $50 million to $100 million a year. Tegucigalpa also unsuccessfully offered to “readjust the $600 million debt” that Honduras had owed Taipei to Taipei, Reina said.

Honduras’ public debt amounts to twenty billion dollars and it is “strangling the country”, argued the minister. Last year, Honduras paid about $2.2 billion to service its debt and that amount is expected to rise by 2023 to over $2.3 billion.

In the name of the principle of one China, the communist power in Beijing, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, does not accept diplomatic relations with both it and Taipei. Any recognition by a country of the People’s Republic of China leads de facto to the rupture between it and Taiwan.

“This decision had to be made,” Reina said, pointing out that “171 countries in the world have relations with mainland China”, while Taiwan only has relations with 14 states.

“We are belatedly and responsibly conforming to a global trend. The idea is to look for ways to get more investment and commercial activity,” insisted the Honduran minister.

In Central America, Costa Rica (in 2007), Panama (in 2017), El Salvador (in 2018) and Nicaragua (in 2021) severed relations with Taiwan in favor of Beijing.