On Tuesday, Taiwan Vice President William Lai flew to Honduras to repair a strained relationship and attend the swearing-in of the country’s new president, a ceremony that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will also attend.
The news: China has increased pressure on Taiwan to diminish its international presence, claiming that the democratically run island is Chinese territory with no right to state-to-state ties.
- Only 14 nations have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, including Honduras. Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro has suggested that Honduras abandon Taipei in favour of Beijing.
What Lai said: He would deliver equipment to help Honduras tackle the COVID-19 outbreak while speaking at Taiwan’s biggest international airport in Taoyuan, demonstrating Taiwan’s determination to support Castro’s government from the start.
- “As President Castro prepares to promote new policies, Taiwan will uphold the spirit of pragmatic diplomacy and mutual assistance, deepen cooperation with Honduras, and overcome various difficulties to benefit both countries’ peoples,” Lai said.
- Lai, who is scheduled to meet Castro on Wednesday, added he would have “interactions and exchanges” with “leaders and deputy leaders” of allies and “friendly countries”, though he did not directly mention Harris.
- The trip will show the world that Taipei is “a trustworthy friend and that Taiwan has the ability to help the international community”, Lai said.
What’s important: Despite the fact that Washington and Taipei have no formal diplomatic relations, Washington is Taiwan’s most important international patron and arms supplier, which is a regular cause of friction between the two countries.
- A visiting U.S. group to Honduras in the run-up to the November election made it clear that it wanted the country to keep its Taiwan relations.
- Lai is stopping in the United States on his route to and from Honduras, as is customary when Taiwanese leaders visit Latin American friends, and China has expressed its usual opposition.
- China’s expanding influence in the United States has been a source of concern for the U.S.
- China has been speeding up attempts to win back Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic friends, re-establishing ties with Nicaragua last month, and has stated openly that it wants to decrease the number to zero.