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Honduran president begins first visit to China since breaking off ties with Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Honduran President Xiomara Castro arrived in Shanghai on Friday on her first visit since China established ties with Honduras, pulling it away from former diplomatic ally Taiwan.

Castro, whose visit extends until June 14, will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping “to jointly plan for the future development” of ties, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said.

Honduras established formal relations with China in March, becoming the latest in a string of former diplomatic allies to break ties with Taiwan. China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province, to be retaken by force if necessary, and prohibits its diplomatic partners from having formal ties with Taipei.

Beijing has intensified its battle for diplomatic recognition against Taiwan since independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. Since then, China has managed to lure away nine of Taiwan’s former allies with a campaign involving billions of dollars of investments.

Beijing’s latest victory comes as tensions have risen with the United States in recent months, including over China’s increasing assertiveness toward Taiwan and growing influence in Latin America.

Taiwan currently has only 13 diplomatic partners, including Belize, Paraguay and Guatemala in Latin America, Vatican City, and several other nations in the Caribbean and South Pacific, along with Eswatini in southern Africa.

Simina Mistreanu, The Associated Press

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