PANAMA – Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela broke off on Monday ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China.
“The Republic of Panama’s government today breaks its ‘diplomatic relations’ with Taiwan,” the Panamanian president said in an official statement.
At the same time, he established diplomatic ties at ambassadorial level with China.
Speaking on a national radio and television channel, Varela said that negotiations in Beijing to establish bilateral relations between the foreign ministers of Panama and the People’s Republic of China ended on Monday.
“Until day, the Republic of Panama has had no diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, a country which alone accounts for 20% of the world’s population and is the second largest economy in the world. This is a situation the government could no longer perpetuate,” said Varela.
He added that China “has always played a dominant role in the economy of Panama. It is currently the second most important user of the Panama Canal and also the first supplier in the Colon Free Trade Zone,” the largest in the hemisphere and located in the Caribbean off Panama.
Varela highlighted the fact that the Chinese ship Cosco Shipping Panama was the one that inaugurated the expansion of the Panama Canal almost a year ago as “a pleasant coincidence and one more point that brought together” the two nations.
“Large Chinese multinationals (...) have established themselves in Panama,” generating employment; “both countries are committed to an increasingly integrated world, which also creates a whole new era of opportunities for the relationship that we start from today,” the president added.
The official statement released on Monday by the Panamanian president indicated that both governments agreed on “the immediate and mutual exchange of ambassadors, and provide, on the basis of reciprocity, the other party with all the assistance necessary for the establishment of embassies in their respective capitals as well as facilitate the performance of the ambassadors’ duties.”