Panama has established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and cut long-standing ties with Taiwan, handing a huge victory to Beijing in its efforts to isolate the self-governed island that China insists is its territory, the Guardian reports.
In a joint statement released on June 12, the two governments announced that they are recognizing each other and establishing ambassadorial-level relations the same day. “The government of the republic of Panama recognizes that there is but one China in the world, that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” the statement read.
On the next day, June 13, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi 王毅 held a meeting in Beijing with Isabel de Saint Malo, the Panamanian vice president and foreign minister, in which they signed a joint communiqué establishing diplomatic ties. “From now on, China has a new member in its friend circle,” Wang said (in Chinese), describing Panama’s decision as in “complete accordance” with its nation’s and people’s interests and “in keeping with the times.” Wang also stated that the negotiation went extremely smoothly as Panama didn’t express any hesitation or propose any requirements. Following the meeting, Chinese state media Xinhua published photos of Wang and his counterpart signing the document and shaking hands with each other.
The South China Morning Post noted that Panama’s shift is not only a big gain for China diplomatically, but also will serve China’s interests in promoting its ambitious Belt and Road initiative, as it “will help Chinese companies increase investment around the Panama Canal, a key waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and a major international trade route.”
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