In the conflict with Taiwan, China has won another Central American country on its side. “China and Honduras have just established diplomatic relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tweeted on Sunday. Honduras previously severed ties with Taiwan. Taipei accuses Beijing of using “force and intimidation” to poach Taiwan’s remaining allies.

Video released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV showed Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang on Sunday after signing the joint statement establishing diplomatic ties in Beijing. Qin said China welcomes Honduran President Xiomara Castro “to visit China soon.”

Earlier, Reina said in Tegucigalpa that, on Castro’s orders, he had informed Taiwan of the decision to “end diplomatic relations.” The government in Beijing was also informed.

In a political U-turn in mid-March, Honduras announced that it wanted to establish diplomatic relations with China. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the change of course was part of “China’s coercion and intimidation” of Taipei’s allies.

Taiwan is under growing pressure from Beijing. Since the split between China and Taiwan in 1949, Beijing has viewed the island as a breakaway territory that it wants to reunite with the mainland – using military force if necessary. Beijing regards diplomatic relations between other countries and Taiwan as a violation of its one-China policy.

Honduras now fully follows this line. The government in Tegucigalpa “recognizes the existence of only one China in the world,” the Honduran Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. The government of the People’s Republic is “the only legitimate government that represents all of China”. “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory,” the statement said.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Sunday that Castro’s government had “demanded billions of dollars in financial aid from us.”

Tegucigalpa asked Taiwan for funding for several major projects last year, including a $45 million hospital and $300 million hydroelectric dam, as well as $2 billion in debt relief last year, but Honduras has stepped up demands this year.

Shortly after the decision was announced, Wu said at a press conference that President Castro was misled by promises of financial aid from China to her country. In doing so, the Honduran government is giving in to “illusions”. Before diplomatic relations were established, China and Honduras had negotiated the construction of a dam in the Central American country.

Wu said that because of Honduras’ turnaround, Taiwan is now also breaking off diplomatic relations. Taiwan is now only recognized as an independent country by 13 countries. Several Central American countries have severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in recent years.

The government in Taipei announced this week that President Tsai will travel to the Central American countries of Guatemala and Belize as well as to the United States next week. She therefore wants to set off on the ten-day trip on Wednesday.

Experts say Tegucigalpa’s change of course is related to Tsai’s visit to the United States. It looks like China will “punish” Taiwan and Tsai for their visit to the US, said political scientist Kuo Yu-jen of Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University. According to him, China will “take further diplomatic steps” during Tsai’s visit.

In an online media post, President Tsai said Taiwan supports the “substantial development” of its allies. However, she added, “We will not engage in pointless diplomatic competition with China.”