Honduras said Saturday it has conveyed to Taiwan its decision to sever diplomatic ties in favor of China, leaving the number of countries that officially recognize the self-ruled democratic island at a record-low 13.

The Central American country said it upholds the one-China principle and now acknowledges Beijing as the only legitimate government representing all of China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (R) shakes hands with Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on March 26, 2023, after the two counties signed a document establishing their diplomatic relation. Honduras earlier severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Honduras became the ninth country to cut ties with Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party became the island's president in May 2016.

The announcement came days after the dispatch of a delegation led by Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina to China to speed up the process of establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu confirmed Sunday that the island has cut ties with Honduras. He contends China lured the country for economic reasons but says it is impossible to isolate Taipei from the international community as support for the territory among Western countries has been increasing.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks at a press conference in Taipei on March 26, 2023. (Central News Agency/Kyodo)

China and Honduras said in a joint statement Sunday they have decided to establish diplomatic relations.

The two governments agreed to develop friendly relations based on principles that include "mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said, adding that Honduras recognizes that Taiwan is "an inalienable part of China's territory."

Honduras had requested that Taiwan double its economic assistance to the country and restructure its debts. Reina said Honduras decided to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing to access "more investment and trade."

China and Taiwan have been separately governed since they split in 1949 due to a civil war. Beijing regards the island as a renegade province to be unified with the mainland by force if necessary.

The 13 countries that still maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei include the Vatican, the Pacific islands of Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands, as well as Guatemala, Paraguay, Haiti and Belize in the Latin American and Caribbean regions.

The nine countries that have severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in recent years include Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands and Nicaragua.

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