WASHINGTON—A visiting U.S. delegation has expressed to both leading presidential candidates in Honduras’ Nov. 28 election that Washington would like the country to maintain its long-standing diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday.
Xiomara Castro, the main opposition leftist candidate, has previously said if victorious, she would opt to switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan over to communist Beijing, although no final decision had been made, according to one of her close aides on Tuesday.
Honduras is currently one of 15 countries, the majority in Central America and the Caribbean, that maintains diplomatic relations with the self-ruled liberal democracy of Taiwan.
The efforts of China’s ruling communist party (CCP) to whittle away at Taiwan’s remaining allies has alarmed Taiwan’s allies, including Washington, which is concerned about the CCP’s growing influence.
“We’ve been quite clear with all the key actors in Honduras why we think the Honduras-Taiwan relationship is so important,” a State Department official told reporters in a telephone briefing.
“We’d like to see that continue. We’ve said that to both of the leading candidates directly,” the official said, referring to meetings with a delegation led by Brian Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.
China’s CCP views democratically ruled Taiwan as one of its provinces. Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name, and that Beijing has no right to speak for it.
The U.S. official, while insisting the United States is not taking sides in the election, said the administration of President Joe Biden welcomed Castro’s promise to institute a United Nations-backed anti-corruption commission if elected.
Whoever wins, the U.S. government intends to continue naming Central American politicians it considers corrupt and will take measures against them, including U.S. visa bans, the officials said.
Washington has cited graft and poor governance in Central American countries as among the root causes of the record flow of migrants who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.
Experts say that since President Juan Orlando Hernandez took office for his second consecutive term amid fraud allegations, the fight against corruption in Honduras has fallen apart. Hernandez is not running this time.
The official reiterated Washington’s call for the elections to be carried out freely and fairly, and urged the Honduran government and military to meet their constitutional responsibilities.
But the U.S. government remains concerned about the potential for further political violence and has urged Honduran authorities to make sure the elections are secure, the official said.
By Matt Spetalnick and Daphne Psaledakis. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.