TAIPEI – Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen attributed on Tuesday the breakdown in diplomatic ties with long-standing ally Panama to Chinese pressure and asserted they will not submit to such intimidation.
Tsai, addressing a press conference, condemned China for the move, which she said will threaten Taiwan’s national interests as well as regional stability.
“Taiwan is committed to preserving Cross-Strait peace, but China’s move has impacted the status quo. We will not sit idle when our national interests are threatened,” she said.
She added that Beijing will never be able to subjugate the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), or its importance in the international community.
“I can speak on behalf of the 23 million Taiwan people that we will not compromise or step back under threat,” she said.
China’s pressure tactics will only increase the distance between Taiwan and the mainland, Tsai said.
“Although we have lost one ally, the fact that the Republic of China (Taiwan’s formal title) is a sovereign country remains changed. We won’t allow our sovereignty to be challenged or be exchanged for anything,” she said.
Panama severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan on Monday in favor of China.
Experts believe China is trying to pressurize Taiwan into recognizing the “One China” principle, although the countries interpret it differently.
Taiwan now maintains ties with just 20 diplomatic allies, 11 of them in Latin America and the Caribbean, which continues to be the diplomatic stronghold of the island.