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May 27, 2017

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Allies' unofficial China ties OK: gov't

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan is not opposed to its diplomatic allies developing "unofficial" economic relations with China, a Foreign Ministry official said yesterday amid reports that Honduras would soon open a trade office in Beijing that could signify the first step for establishing formal ties.

In an Associated Press story published Thursday, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo was quoted as saying that his government will open a trade office in China as a step toward establishing full diplomatic relations.

Lobo was quoted in the report that "in the 21st century, one can't keep thinking that expanding relations with one country means being the enemy of another."

Asked to comment, Jamie Wu (吳進木), head of the ministry's Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, told The China Post yesterday that it has always been the ruling administration's policy that it would not discourage the nation's allies from developing "unofficial economic relations" with Beijing.

But he stressed the Central American ally's move does not mean it is going to sever official ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing.

He reiterated that bilateral diplomatic relations remained on good terms.

Lobo's remarks came three days after Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Simon Ko responded to a question during a legislative session by saying that his ministry does not want to see Honduras establish an office in mainland China.

Ko said Monday that the government would not be opposed to the Central American ally exploring business opportunities with Beijing. But he does not think it is appropriate for Honduras to set up a representative office.

Honduras is one of the 23 countries around the world that recognize Taipei instead of Beijing diplomatically.

Currently, the mainland has trade offices in three of Taiwan's allies: Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

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