China and Honduras have delivered a speedy and robust start to their diplomatic relations since they were officially established just more than two months ago.
Following the inauguration of their embassies in each other’s capital over the past week, Beijing and Tegucigalpa welcomed a historic moment on Monday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with the visiting Honduran President Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento.
Noting that Castro is the first Honduran president to pay a state visit to China, Xi hailed her visit as one of special significance as it opens a new chapter in the annals of the China-Honduras relationship.
“China will remain committed to developing friendly relations with Honduras, firmly support economic and social development in Honduras, and forge a good friendship and partnership with Honduras featuring mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, and common development,” he pledged.
Xi also expressed his readiness to work with the Honduran president from a strategic and long-term perspective to steer the bilateral relationship toward greater development and turn the vision of cooperation into tangible results for the greater benefit of the two peoples.
The one-China principle
Hours after Honduras announced that it had severed the so-called “diplomatic relations” with China’s Taiwan region, the Central American country signed a joint communique with China on March 26, becoming the 182nd country to establish diplomatic relations with China based on the one-China principle.
By doing so, Castro, the first female president of Honduras, who was elected in November 2021 and inaugurated in January 2022, has fulfilled one of her campaign promises.
During Monday’s talks, Xi commended the “historic” decision she has made and the “unwavering” political will she has shown in establishing diplomatic relations with China, saying the contribution will “go down in history.”
The one-China principle is the primary premise and political foundation for the establishment of diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral relations between China and Honduras, he said.
Castro said the Honduran side firmly supports and abides by the one-China principle, and supports the Chinese government’s efforts to achieve national reunification.
According to a joint statement released on Monday, China and Honduras agree to boost cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the Honduran side express support for the Global Development Initiative, Global Civilization Initiative and Global Security Initiative – the three initiatives China has proposed to address the challenges facing the world and the era.
‘Great promise’ in cooperation
After their talks, Xi and Castro jointly witnessed the signing of 17 bilateral cooperation documents in such areas as BRI construction, economy, trade, quality inspection, agriculture, science and technology, culture and education.
Both sides also agreed to start negotiations on a free trade agreement at an early date. Since March, China has greenlighted the imports of some signature Honduran products such as coffee, shrimps, melons and bananas.
In the first four months of 2023, China’s imports from and exports to Honduras reached about 3.89 billion yuan ($540 million), a year-on-year increase of 22.9 percent, and in particular, the imports grew by 229.5 percent, data from China’s customs showed.
“The bilateral relationship has got off to a good and speedy start and enjoys great dynamism and promise,” Xi told Castro during their meeting.
Castro said Honduras is confident about the future, given the rapid progress of cooperation between the two countries over the past two months.
At the inauguration ceremony of Honduras’ embassy in Beijing on Sunday, Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said the establishment of diplomatic relations with China opens a new era in Honduras’ relations with the world and offers a chance for Honduras to become a “great and prosperous” country.
“With China, we open new windows of opportunity for Honduran trade and commerce, and with these, for the Honduran economic growth,” Reina told CGTN in a recent interview.
Castro is on a six-day state visit to China that will run till Wednesday. She arrived in Shanghai on Friday. Honduras will participate in the China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai later this year and send young students to the city for study, she said in Shanghai.