Honduras switches diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China, leaving the self-ruled island recognised by just 13 sovereign states.
Honduras has ended its decades-long diplomatic relations with Taiwan, paving the way for the Central American country to establish a formal relationship with China.
In a statement on Twitter on Saturday, the Honduran foreign ministry said, “the government of Honduras recognises the existence of just one China in the world”.
“And the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China,” it said.
“Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory,” it added.
The ministry said Honduras had notified Taiwan of its decision to break ties and that it would not return to having any relationship or official contact with Taipei.
The move leaves Taiwan recognised by only 13 sovereign states.
China and Taiwan have been locked in a battle for diplomatic recognition since the two sides split amid civil war in 1949, with Beijing spending billions to win recognition for its “One China” policy.
China views Taiwan as one of its provinces with no right to state-to-state ties, a view the democratically-elected government in Taipei strongly disputes.
Shortly after Saturday’s announcement, the flag of Honduras was removed from inside Taiwan’s foreign ministry, according to the Reuters news agency.
Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu confirmed the severing of ties at a news conference in Taipei and said it would close its embassy in Honduras and withdraw its ambassador there.
Honduras is the ninth diplomatic ally that Taipei has lost to Beijing since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen first took office in May 2016.
Taiwan still has ties with Belize, Paraguay and Guatemala in Latin America, and Vatican City. Most of its remaining partners are island nations in the Caribbean and South Pacific, along with Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, in southern Africa.
Despite China’s campaign of isolation, Taiwan retains robust informal ties with more than 100 other countries, most notably the United States.
The Honduran decision to cut ties prompted warnings from the de facto US embassy in Taipei on Saturday that China often makes promises in exchange for recognition that remain unfulfilled.
After a recent meeting with US officials, the Honduran foreign minister said Washington “respects” Honduras’s decision to move towards establishing formal diplomatic ties with China.
Taiwan disputed the foreign minister’s comments.