Canada

Honduran president, in diplomatic shift, says he may open China office

TEGUCIGALPA — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Tuesday the Central American nation, a long-standing diplomatic ally of Taiwan, could open a commercial office in China in a bid to acquire coronavirus vaccines.

Honduras does not have formal relations with China and is one of a group of Latin American nations with strong diplomatic ties to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.

Hernandez, frustrated that rich countries have “hoarded” global vaccine supplies, said poorer countries desperately need vaccines and that his government was willing to do whatever was necessary to help its people during a global pandemic.

He said in a televised speech that if necessary, his government would open a commercial office in China “because it is in the best interest of the Honduran people.”

In order to buy Chinese vaccines, he said would do as the Chinese had suggested and look for a “diplomatic bridge.”

He suggested Mexico, Chile, Argentina or El Salvador could help his nation acquire Chinese vaccines.

A host of Latin American nations are receiving Chinese vaccines, although several countries that have built ties with Taipei rather than Beijing, such as Honduras and Guatemala, are not in line to receive them.

Both China and Russia, as well as the United States, have sought to deepen ties through providing vaccines in Latin America, part of “vaccine diplomacy” efforts to further their countries’ geopolitical clout in the region. (Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Peter Cooney)

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