Panama cuts off ties with Taiwan, switches to China

al jazeera 13 June 2017

Taiwan says China’s luring of Panama is an ‘open threat’ and ‘provocation to peace and stability’.

China and Panama's foreign ministers signed a joint communique establishing ties in Beijing [AFP]
China and Panama’s foreign ministers signed a joint communique establishing ties in Beijing [AFP]

Panama has established diplomatic ties with China while breaking off with Taiwan, dealing a victory to Beijing which claims the self-governing island as its own territory.

Panama President Juan Carlos Varela announced the change in a televised address on Tuesday, saying it represents “the correct path for our country”.

Taiwan’s government said it was sorry and angry over Panama’s decision, but would not compete with China in what it described as a “diplomatic money game”.

“We strongly condemn Beijing for manipulating the so-called ‘One China’ policy to continue to suppress Taiwan’s international space through various means,” Taiwan’s presidential office said.

“This kind of action is not only an open threat to Taiwanese people’s survival and welfare but also an open provocation to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region.”

Panama is the second country to switch its recognition to Beijing since President Tsai Ing-wen took office last year, following a similar move by Sao Tome and Principe in December.

The island now has just 20 formal diplomatic partners.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi met his counterpart from Panama, Isabel de Saint Malo, in Beijing on Tuesday and signed a joint communique establishing ties.

Wang said he was sure relations between the two countries would have a “bright future”.

Saint Malo said she hoped the new relationship would lead to trade, investment and tourism opportunities, in particular, “exporting more goods from Panama to China”.

Panama’s decision to dump Taiwan comes just days after Beijing began the construction of a container port, with natural gas facilities, in its northern province of Colon.

‘No match’

Carl Thayer, an emeritus professor of politics at the University of New South Wales Canberra College in Australia, told AFP news agency that Panama’s switch was “about who can give the most help … Taiwan has resources, but it can’t match China”.

Chinese ships have the highest use of the Panama Canal, the Central American country’s main source of budget revenue, after the United States.

China and Taiwan split after a civil war in 1949 and Beijing has vowed to take control of the island by force if necessary.

READ MORE: Trump supports ‘One China’ policy in call with Xi

China has ratcheted up the pressure on Taiwan in the past year, cutting off contacts with Taiwanese government bodies and barring the island’s representatives from attending the World Health Organization‘s annual conference and other international gatherings.

In recent months, China has also sailed an aircraft carrier strike force around the island in a display of its growing military power.

Zhang Baohiu, director of Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said the loss of Panama is intended to show Tsai that continued defiance of Beijing will harm Taiwan’s overall interests.

“Panama was one of the more significant countries that still maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan,” Zhang told the Associated Press.

“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.”

Source: News agencies

This entry was posted in China, One-China policy, Taiwan and tagged , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development ( I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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