One of Taiwan’s oldest partners I’d suspect, diplomatic relations between Honduras and Taiwan date back all the way to 1941.
Largely based on investment, the relationship between the two countries has been mostly based around the textiles industry.
The earliest digital recording of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Honduras I was able to find dates back to 1996, when the two countries signed an “investment protection accord“, which cast
a protective shield over Taiwan and Honduras businessmen who launch overseas investment projects in the two countries.
The two sides also pledged to transfer technologies and enhance economic cooperation. In addition, the contracting parties plan to work together to create a more mutually lucrative trade and investment environment.
During the signing ceremony, Urbizo said Honduras welcomes Taiwan investors to cultivate business opportunities in his country. He added that his government will give them all the necessary administrative assistance and preferential tax treatment.
This reciprocal, mutually beneficial pact will serve to provide Taiwan businessmen full investment protection in the Central American nation, he added.
By 2011 Taiwanese businesses had ‘invested about US$60 million in Honduras and created more than 2,000 jobs’, with another “investment co-operation agreement” signed the same year.
Honduran Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose Francisco Zelaya said Taiwan and Honduras are expected to mutually benefit from the investment accord and his country has high hopes that cooperation with Taiwan will demonstrate Honduras’ ambition to expand its international trade activities.
As recent as early June this year Honduras’ Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose Adonis Lavaire met up with Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Department of Investment Services Director General, Chiu Yi-cheh, to discuss investment co-operation between the two countries.
Despite several issues raised, thing still seemed to be going well enough.
And it’s not only on the financial investment front that Taiwan and Honduras interact. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have a team out there helping locals develop their skills and as recently as Christmas Day Taiwan pledged to ‘upgrade the disease prevention and control capabilities‘ of ‘its allies in Central America‘ (including Honduras), due to continued breakouts of citrus greening disease threatening the region’s produce industry.
Now I’m no heavyweight political analysis, but reading between the lines it appears the gist of the agreement leans towards Taiwan investing in Honduras’ economy, with Honduras implementing favourable conditions conductive to this investment via local laws.
Sure a bit of money flows back into Taiwan with the purchase of industrial equipment and what not, but by and large it’s money flowing out of Taiwan that keeps the relationship afloat.
Well it did until eleven days ago. That’s when everything went to shit.
Before we get into that though, we need to take a step back into June 2009.
Following a “constitutionally endorsed coup” which overthrew the Honduran government then led by elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya, coup leader Roberto Micheletti was made head of a caretaker government.
The US initially tried to push a compromise where Zelaya would “supervise” the Micheletti led government however for whatever reason that plan fell through.
End result? Current Hoduran President Profirio Lobo was “virtually elected” (whatever that means) and has remained in power ever since.
Fed up with the international community at large failing to recognise his virtually elected government, Lobo spat the dummy in March 2011 ‘shunning neighbors that refuse(d) to recognize its government’, announcing plans to close its embassies in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela (none of which recognise Lobo).
At the time, Honduran Foreign Minister Mario Canahuati also announced
the resources assigned to Honduran embassies in those countries would be diverted to open trade offices in India, Singapore, China and Canada.
With Honduras rich in timber, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron ore, coal, fish and shrimp, it didn’t take long for potential investors to bite.
On December 19th 2012 (reported December 20th), President Lobo declared that ‘his government will open a trade office in China as a step toward establishing full diplomatic relations‘.
Ohhh shit, no he didn’t!
Seemingly caught offguard it took Taiwan six days to respond, with Foreign Minister David Lin finally declaring that
the Taiwan government would not accept Honduras’ double recognition of China and Taiwan.
When quizzed at the obvious push for an official diplomatic relationship with China by Honduras (hell, Lobo stated as much), Lin went on to state that ‘bilateral ties remain stable, noting that the ally’s plan to open a trade office in Beijing has not yet been finalized‘.
Seriously? You’ve got the President of a country declaring plans to open a trade office in another country to kickstart official diplomatic relations… and Taiwan’s government are running around reassuring everyone it “hasn’t been finalised” yet?
And what’s this nonsense about not recognising China. Y’all gunna go ahead and pretend that big chunk of land north of us filled with 1.6 billion people doesn’t exist?
To be fair, Lin’s misguided optimism might have been fuelled by Honduras’ assurance that ‘the initiative will be based on the principle of not hurting diplomatic relations with Taiwan‘.
That short-lived policy however appears to have been turfed last Friday, with Honduras announcing that
it respects the “political principle of ‘one China’ and that it has never considered a policy of dual recognition.
Shortly after the climax of what I can only imagine must have been a truly epic blowjob, the Honduran government then went on clarify that
not interfering in a country’s internal affairs was a guiding principle in bilateral relations and that it would not accept conditions of any nature from another country regarding its external relations.
Internal affairs? Hang on a second, the only people on Earth that refer to Taiwan and China as an internal affair are China and the countries it pumps money into.
That must have been one epic motherload China delivered into Honduras gaping open… uh, economy. Lobo’s government declares nobody aint gunna tell him what to do, and the next minute he’s spouting off catchphrases straight outta the PRC propaganda handbook.
And still not getting it, the Taiwanese government continues to refuse to unwedge its head from up its arse.
The day after Honduras latest announcement Lin was at it again, reassuring everyone that
the ministry remained confident that Taiwan retains normal and solid diplomatic ties Honduras.
“I can guarantee 100 percent that [Honduras’ shift in allegiance to Beijing] is a non-issue,” he said.
100% you say, but how can that be???
Lin reiterated that Tegucigalpa has given Taipei “two assurances” that made the ministry “see no problems in bilateral ties” with the current postures being taken by Honduras to seek to develop closer economic and trade relations with China.
Oh right… “assurances”. No worries then!
Lin said Honduran authorities may have misunderstood what he had said about the government’s stance on dual recognition by its allies that led to the statement.
Lin at that time said that Taipei did not consider dual recognition acceptable.
“I wasn’t talking about the case of Honduras, but in general,” Lin said yesterday.
Honestly, does it make a difference?
Face it guys, the writing is on the wall. China wants Honduras’ resources and they’re going to dump relations with Taiwan as it’s no doubt a pre-requisite before China starts its resource colonization.
Oh and I’m not being dramatic either. Conveniently overlooked by the Foreign Minister is the claim from the Honduran government that ‘its relationship with China has been developing for some months‘… and this announcement, made just a few months ago:
Honduras is set to host one of the world’s most radical neo-liberal economic experiments under a plan to build from scratch the rules, roads and rafters of a “charter city” for foreign investors.
The Central American nation hopes the plan for model development zones, which will have their own laws, tax system, judiciary and police, will emulate the economic success of city states such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
The plan appears to have been thrown together in the space of less than a year, partly to boost the economy and partly to make Honduras more attractive to foreign investors who fear crime.
It is the realisation of a proposal for “charter cities” proposed by the US economist Paul Romer, a graduate of the University of Chicago school of economics, who is currently professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University.
Citing Hong Kong as an example, Romer argues that cities based on a “charter” of strong, pro-business laws and institutions are the key to rapid growth, particularly when they can act as international gateways to larger regions such as China.
I daresay China’s plans to establish a Chinatown in Honduras aren’t going to be quite what anyone expected. Least of all Honduras.
Wake up Taiwan, you’ve been dumped.