Honduras snaps decades-old ties with Taiwan, the Latin American country announces, saying it recognises "only one China in the world" and leaving Taipei with just 13 countries with which it has formal diplomatic ties.

Honduras FM Reina (L) and Chinese FM Gang raise a toast following establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries at a ceremony in Beijing.
Honduras FM Reina (L) and Chinese FM Gang raise a toast following establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries at a ceremony in Beijing. (AFP)

Honduras has formed diplomatic ties with China after ending relationship with Taiwan, cutting more than eight-decade-old ties with the Asian country in favour of Beijing which considers Taiwan as its breakaway province. 

Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said that upon instructions from President Xiomara Castro he "has communicated to Taiwan the decision to cease diplomatic relations," a ministry statement said late on Saturday.

"The government of Honduras recognises the existence of just one China," the Honduran Foreign Ministry said in a post on Twitter. "The government 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."

Early on Sunday, China announced the establishment of diplomatic ties with Honduras, in a victory for Beijing which lured another ally away from Taiwan.

"China and Honduras just established diplomatic relations," tweeted Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Taiwan also said it was cutting diplomatic ties with Honduras, withdrawing embassy in a tit-for-tat move. Its foreign minister alleged Honduras demanded large amount of money to sustain ties. 

"The severance of diplomatic relations between our country and Honduras is part of a series of China's coercions and intimidations," said a statement from President Tsai Ing-wen's office. 

"China has suppressed the international space of (Taiwan) for a long time, unilaterally endangering regional peace and stability."

Taiwan's presidential office spokesperson Olivia Lin noted in a statement that the relations between both sides had lasted for more than 80 years.

"China has suppressed Taiwan's international space for long and unilaterally endangers the region's peace and stability," she was quoted saying in the statement.

Last week, Honduran President Castro ordered Reina to establish diplomatic relations with China.

Under Beijing's "One China" principle, no country may maintain official diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan. 

Taipei maintains a similar policy, having cut ties in the past with countries that switched recognition to Beijing.

READ MORE: Honduras says 'economic reality' behind Taiwan-to-China switch

Taiwan leader to visit Belize, Guatemala

Honduras' decision to formally switch recognition leaves Taiwan with just 13 countries with which it has formal diplomatic ties, having lost several Latin American allies in recent years.

Honduras is the ninth diplomatic ally that Taipei has lost to Beijing since pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen first took office in May 2016.

Last week, Reina said economic necessity and Taiwan's refusal to increase financial aid to Honduras were behind the decision to establish ties with China.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with almost 74 percent of its almost 10 million population living in poverty. 

Reina put the country's internal and external debt at $20 billion, of which $600 million is owed to Taiwan.

Honduras denied on Wednesday it had demanded $2.5 billion in aid from Taiwan before its announcement to seek to open relations with China, instead saying the country had repeatedly asked Taiwan to buy Honduran public debt.

The diplomatic switch — which Castro had promised to make while on the campaign trail — came weeks after her government announced it was negotiating with China to build a hydroelectric dam.

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen will depart on March 29 on a 10-day trip to shore up ties with two of its remaining allies — Belize and Guatemala — and will also stop in the United States while in transit.

On March 7, US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy confirmed that he would meet Tsai in his home state of California, with the US State Department asserting the expected travel was "transit" rather than a "visit".

Beijing has expressed opposition to that meeting.

READ MORE: Honduras to seek official relations with China: President Castro

READ MORE: Is the US losing its influence to China across Latin America?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies