Panama switches diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China

Posted June 13, 2017

A joint statement released on Monday evening said Panama and China were recognising each other and establishing ambassadorial-level relations the same day.

After decades of siding with Taiwan in the disagreement over its status, Panama now "recognises that there is only one China in the world" and that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory.

"This is a historic moment, China-Panama relations have opened a new chapter", Wang said, adding that Panama's decision was in "complete accordance" with its people's interests and "in keeping with the times". "The relationship between China and Panama has a history of more than 160 years", he continued.

Taiwan now has formal ties with 20 governments, 12 of which are Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ministers Wang and Malo recognized and highlighted the importance of mutual non-interference relations, emphasizing the need to develop friendly relations based on the principle of equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence.

Panama had previously recognized Taiwan, an island nation populated mainly by Chinese Kumomingtang who lost the Chinese civil war in 1949.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be part of the country.

Beijing cut contacts with Taiwanese government bodies a year ago, and recently sailed an aircraft carrier strike force around the island.

The severance of ties with two influential countries in Central America - Costa Rica (in 2007) and now Panama - underscores the fact that Taiwan's diplomatic foundation has been hollowed out, Chen said.

Another political scientist said it was "not surprising" that Panama established ties with China.

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

"Now this trend could continue for a while", Tang said.

Taiwan's foreign ministry announced separately that it would end diplomatic relations with Panama, shut down its embassy and withdraw all its financial and technical aid for the country.

Taiwan's Presidential Office's comment on the incident is still yet to come.

Liao I-ming (廖義銘), a professor at National University of Kaohsiung, said Taiwan has ties linked to "checkbook diplomacy" with most of its allies except for the Vatican.

Taiwan's government expressed its anger over the move on Tuesday, saying it was "sorry" for the decision and that it would not compete with China in what it described as a "diplomatic money game".

"Both nations are betting on a more interconnected world", Varela said in a possible allusion to Chinese economic involvement in the canal.

The loss of Panama is meant to show Tsai that continued defiance of Beijing will harm Taiwan's overall interests, said Zhang Baohui, director of Center for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.