TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan will remain resilient and pragmatic, supporting its allies and not bowing to the “big neighborhood bully,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Friday as the island faces the loss of long-time ally Honduras to China .
On Tuesday, Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced the government would seek diplomatic ties with Beijing, at the expense of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.
Castro’s Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said on Wednesday that the swing to China was partly due to Honduras being “over the neck” with financial challenges and debt — including $600 million it owes Taiwan.
Speaking to an audience that included ambassadors from countries that still have formal ties with Taiwan, Wu said Taiwan will remain “agile, pragmatic, resilient and lovable,” albeit not the Honduran ambassador.
“As a responsible member of the international community, we are always more than willing to share our expertise and experience with our allies and like-minded partners,” Wu said.
“Over the years, we have worked with our diplomatic allies to support their national development plans and enhance the well-being of their people,” he added.
“Despite the shadow of the big tyrant in the neighborhood, Taiwan will not back down,” Wu said, clearly referring to China. “She will continue to stand as a force for good in the world.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also attended the event, sitting at a table with ambassadors from allied nations, including the ambassador of Paraguay, whose country is holding elections next month that could also end ties with Taiwan.
Tsai briefly thanked countries for their international support for Taiwan. Like Wu, she didn’t mention Honduras directly.
If Honduras dropped Taiwan, it would leave the island with just 13 diplomatic allies, mostly small and developing countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
China says Taiwan is one of its provinces with no right to interstate relations, a view the democratically elected government in Taipei firmly rejects.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie
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