Honduras will establish diplomatic relations with China, President Xiomara Castro said, a move that would result in the severing of longstanding official ties with Taiwan.
Castro wrote on Twitter that she had instructed Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina “to undertake the opening of official relations with the People’s Republic of China.”
The switch—which Castro pledged to make while on the campaign trail—comes weeks after her government announced it was negotiating with China to build a hydroelectric dam.
Under Beijing’s “One China” principle, no country may maintain official diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan.
Beijing said it “welcomed” the decision, with foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin telling journalists: “On the basis of the One-China principle, China is willing to develop friendly and cooperative relations with Honduras and other countries in the world.
Honduras is one of only 14 countries that officially recognize Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory to be retaken one day, by force if necessary.
The Honduran government did not immediately confirm whether it had officially severed ties with Taipei.
On Wednesday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed “serious concern” at the announcement.
“We ask Honduras to carefully consider and do not fall into China’s trap and make the wrong decision to damage the long-term friendship between Taiwan and Honduras,” it said in a statement.
On Wednesday morning, an AFP journalist saw the Honduran ambassador to Taipei Harold Burgos arrive at Taiwan’s foreign ministry. Neither side made any immediate comment regarding the meeting.
Latin America has been a key diplomatic battleground for China and Taiwan since the two split in 1949 after a civil war. Honduras is among three Central American states—alongside Belize and Guatemala—that still recognize Taiwan.