Honduras has cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan so it can begin a relationship with China.
Honduran president Xiomara Castro has previously said her government would open ties with China, and her foreign minister recently visited Beijing.
Late on Saturday, the Honduran foreign ministry said on Twitter: “The government of the Republic of Honduras recognises the existence of only one China in the world and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China.
“Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and as of today, the Honduran government has informed Taiwan the severance of diplomatic relations, pledging not to have any official relationship or contact with Taiwan.”
Honduras is the ninth diplomatic ally that Taipei has lost to Beijing since pro-independence president Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016.
It means that Taiwan is officially recognised by only 13 sovereign states, although it has informal ties with dozens of others.
According to Beijing, Taiwan is part of China and must be brought under control – by force if necessary.
Beijing avoids relationships with countries that have formal ties to Taiwan, and has threatened to retaliate against countries that seek to strengthen those ties.
It has also been luring Taiwan’s allies with promises of investment and deeper trading relationships, a strategy that has gained it a series of Central American and Caribbean countries over the past five years.
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Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu confirmed that ties had been severed with Honduras, saying that his country would close its embassy in the country and withdraw its ambassador.
Honduras had demanded a large amount of money, he said.
A spokesperson for the US State Department said: “We strongly encourage all countries to expand engagement with Taiwan and to continue to stand on the side of democracy, good governance, transparency, and adherence to the rule of law.”
The spokesperson also warned that China often makes promises in exchange for diplomatic recognition that ultimately remain unfulfilled.