Panama and China are moving full-speed ahead after the Central American country ended its long-standing relationship with Taiwan in June.
During Juan Carlos Varela’s visit to China this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the Panamanian president for his great vision, political courage and responsibility in establishing diplomatic ties based on a One-China Policy.
“This sends an important message to the world, which is that a brand new page has been opened in China-Panama relations,” Xi said in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. This brand new page comes with a Chinese pledge to assist Panama’s economic and social development in the spirit of friendship.
While in town, Varela opened the new Panamanian Embassy in Beijing and signed 19 agreements on trade, justice, tourism and shipping with Xi, including a feasibility study on a free trade agreement. Last month, a group including China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd started construction on a $165 million cruise ship port on Panama’s Pacific side, the first project announced between China and Panama since they established diplomatic ties.
Panama was one of the 21 mostly small nations that still recognized Taiwan despite China’s insistence on the One-China Policy. Following the split, the Taiwanese government has expressed its anger and dismay, citing checkbook democracy as the reason for the estrangement, something both Panama and China deny.
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