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June 14, 2017

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Panama opens new chapter with China

PANAMA established diplomatic ties with China yesterday, with the government of the Republic of Panama recognizing there is but one China in the world and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.

In Panama, President Juan Carlos Varela announced the change, which entails breaking off formal relations with Taiwan, saying in a televised address that it represents the “correct path for our country.”

At the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Panamanian Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo signed a joint communique establishing diplomatic relations, followed by a champagne toast.

The communique says Panama and China 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 communique reads.

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.

The communique says China and Panama, in keeping with the interests and desires of both their peoples, have decided to recognize each other and establish diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level.

The two governments agree to develop friendly relations between the two countries on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence, the communique says.

It says Panama severs diplomatic relations with Taiwan “as of this day” and undertakes not to have any more official relations or official exchanges with Taiwan.

The communique also says the Chinese government appreciates this position of the government of Panama.

At a press briefing, Wang said Panama is an important Latin American country and the Chinese people value the traditional friendship with the Panamanian people.

He said the political decision made by Varela and his government meets the fundamental interests of the country.

Both China and Panama agreed that the one-China principle is the fundamental premise and the political basis on which the two countries can establish diplomatic ties and develop bilateral relations, Wang said.

“We both agreed that the establishment of bilateral ties will bring broad prospects for us to expand the comprehensive cooperation of mutual benefits,” he said.

The two sides will engage in friendly exchanges of various levels and areas, and deepen political mutual trust, Wang said, adding that China welcomes Panama’s active participation in the Belt and Road initiative.

They will also have communication and coordination in international and regional affairs, help deepen friendly cooperation between China and Latin America as well as the Caribbean area, safeguard the common interests of developing countries, and promote peace, stability and development in the world, he said.

Saint Malo said the decision to establish ties with China was made on the basis of the two countries’ interests, and both sides will chart a roadmap for developing bilateral ties.

It will open a new chapter for relations, she said.

She said Varela had directed government departments to discuss cooperation in tourism, trade, culture, immigration, agriculture, education and maritime affairs, and set the stage for developing bilateral trade.


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