Taiwanese Vice President William Lai (賴淸德) recently went on a trip around the Americas. He spent some time in the US meeting with various representatives.
In total he is reported to have met with 17 US government officials, often virtually due to the COVID pandemic, these included Congressmen John Curtis and Mark Takano, and Senator Ed Markey. He also held video conferences with community leaders around the US.
Ostensibly Lai was traveling through the US to attend the inauguration of the Honduran President, Xiomara Castro. Lai being invited to this ceremony is a pretty big deal when we remember that Castro made a pledge, while she was campaigning back in September, to switch diplomatic and economic ties from Taiwan to China. Though it seems with this invitation that reality may lie somewhere in the middle.
Castro and Honduras could still switch ties to China, they could also try to thread the needle and appease both countries. While Taiwan would likely be satisfied with this arrangement, it is unlikely that Beijing would be. Castro also thanked Taiwan for its ‘solidarity’. The Honduran President, like Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, is the first female president of her country so there is perhaps some mutual bond and understanding there. However, for answers to how the Central American nation handles these ties, we will simply have to wait and see.
At the inauguration, Lai also met his American counterpart, US Vice President Kamala Harris. The two exchanged pleasantries and reportedly chatted about their mutual interest in Central America. Lai also thanked Harris for the strong support from the United States.
What comes of these meeting will be reveled in the future. Perhaps there will be increasingly solid support of Taiwan from both the US and Honduras, however in the realm of politics it is often difficult to predict the future.