Panama breaks with Taiwan as it establishes ties with China

Laura Christensen
June 13, 2017

China also welcomed Panama to participate in the Beijing-led "Belt and Road" initiative, a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry cited Wang as saying.

"There are no countries that have diplomatic relations with other countries simply because of democracy and freedom - they are all focused on national interests", the former foreign minister said.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Panama accords with the will of the people and represents an irresistible trend, according to a Taiwan affairs spokesperson for China's mainland Tuesday.

Panama has established diplomatic ties with China and broken with Taiwan, as Beijing steps up efforts to isolate Taipei internationally since last year's election of President Tsai Ing-wen.

In a statement, the Panamanian government said it recognised there was "only one China in the world" and that Taiwan formed an inalienable part of Chinese territory. The island is also excluded, at China's insistence, from the United Nations and many other multinational bodies. China put forward a formula, known as "one country, two systems", under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification. "China-Panama relations have opened a new chapter", Wang said, describing Panama's decision as in "complete accordance" with its people's interests and "in keeping with the times".

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Although China refused to form such ties during the previous administration of China-friendly president Ma Ying-jeou, it no longer has any such qualms, Tang said.

"The Government of the Republic of Panama this very day breaks its "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan, and commits to leaving behind all official relations or contact with Taiwan", it continued.

"Beijing's suppression of Taiwan's worldwide space is not just an open threat to the Taiwanese people's right to life, it is a provocation of the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the region", it said in a statement.

"Both nations are betting on a more interconnected world", Varela said in a possible allusion to Chinese economic involvement in the Panama Canal. China is the second-biggest user of the Panama Canal and has played a key role in sectors from banking to telecommunications, he said, adding that Taiwan had been a great friend.

"By taking away Panama, it once again teaches Tsai's government the lesson that if she doesn't accept the "one China" principle ... there will be consequences".

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