Honduras Opens Embassy in China After Breaking Off Ties With Taiwan

BEIJING (AP) -- Honduras opened an embassy in Beijing on Sunday, Chinese state media reported, months after the Central American nation broke off relations with Taiwan to establish diplomatic ties with China.

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his Honduran counterpart Enrique Reina took part in the inauguration of the embassy on Sunday morning, China's official CCTV said. The report said Honduras still needed to determine the embassy's permanent location and would increase its number of staff.

Qin pledged that China would establish a new model with Honduras of "friendly cooperation" between countries with different sizes and systems, according to a statement from China's Foreign Ministry.

The symbol of the two sides' strengthening diplomatic ties came during Honduran President Xiomara Castro's six-day visit to China.

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

The island also faces increasing military threats from Beijing. Its defense ministry on Sunday reported that 10 Chinese warplanes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary once tacitly accepted by both sides. In response, Taiwan deployed aircraft, naval vessels, and land-based missile systems.

Castro arrived in Shanghai on Friday on her first visit since the establishment of relations. During her stay in Shanghai, she visited the headquarters of the New Development Bank, a bank established by the BRICS nations, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Honduras requested admission to the bank, Castro's office tweeted Saturday.

The president also visited a research center for technology giant Huawei before arriving in Beijing on Saturday night, China's official Global Times newspaper reported.

The ties formed in March were a diplomatic victory for China amid heightened tensions between Beijing and the United States, including China's increasing assertiveness toward Taiwan. It also signaled China's growing influence in Latin America.

China and Taiwan have been locked in a battle for diplomatic recognition since they split amid civil war in 1949, with Beijing spending billions to win recognition for its "one China" policy.