BEIJING – China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Wednesday that its commercial office in Panama has already started operating as an embassy in the Latin American country.
“According to the bill agreement, the China Trade Development Office has changed its name to Embassy of China in Panama and has begun to fulfill its obligations,” ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press conference.
The statement came after Panama announced on Tuesday that it had opened its own embassy in Beijing after breaking diplomatic ties with longtime ally Taiwan in favor of China in June.
For Taiwan, this has resulted in the loss of one of its main diplomatic allies in its struggle for independence from China, which regards the self-ruled island nation as part of its territory.
China is the second most important user of the Panama Canal and the largest supplier of the Colon Free Trade Zone, the biggest free port in the Americas, located in the Panamanian Caribbean.
The break with Panama has left Taiwan with only 20 diplomatic allies in the world, 11 of which are in Latin America.