In historic move, Panama and China establish diplomatic relations

World Today

Flags of China (left) and Panama (right).

The government of Panama has established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, Panama President Juan Carlos Varela announced on Twitter.

CGTN’s Sean Callebs reports.

Carlos Varela said on Twitter at 8:11 p.m. local time that “a moment ago” the Foreign Ministers of Panama and China met to finalize the negotiations.

He also wrote a series of tweets that explained the reasons for the establishment of ties.

“The relationship between China and Panama has a history of more than 160 years,” he wrote.

“Until the opening of the Canal, the railroad carried the largest volume of cargo per unit length of all railways in the world. The existence of the railroad was a key factor in the selection of Panama for the construction of the Canal.”

He said that the establishment of ties also acknowledges the Panamanian-Chinese community.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Panama’s Vice President Isabel Saint Malo sign agreements on the day Panama and China established formal diplomatic ties. (Photo by CCTV)

“This step is an acknowledgment to the Panamanian-Chinese community, which has played an important role in the economic and social development of the country,” Carlos Varela said.

China alone accounts for 20 percent of the world’s population and is the second-largest economy in the world, he wrote.

“The People’s Republic of China has always played a relevant role in the economy of Panama,” he added on Twitter.

The president tweeted that Chinese multinationals are engaged in a variety of sectors in Panama including logistics, energy, banking, construction and technology.

“This translates into new jobs and training for Panamanians,” he tweeted.

Carlos Varela also said that China plays an important role in the region and in the world.

“With this decision we join the 174 countries that have recognized Resolution 2758 of 1971 of the United Nations General Assembly,” he added. “We will try to ensure that the whole process of this decision is fluid and satisfactory.”

He added that he has instructed his Cabinet to sign agreements in tourism, trade, immigration, agriculture, education and shipping.

China is the second biggest user of the Panama Canal.

Panama had previously recognized Taiwan, an island populated mainly by Chinese Kumomingtang who lost the Chinese civil war in 1949. China has a non-negotiable One-China policy and the government regards Taiwan as an integral part of it. The government believes that the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents China.

“Taiwan has been a great friend of Panama, we are grateful for their friendship and cooperation during the diplomatic relations we maintained,” the president added on Twitter.