Panama shifts ties to China, breaks up with Taiwan
17 June, 2017
Panama broke off more than a century of diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with China instead last Monday. The move was "the right path for our country," Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela said, arguing that China represented 20% of the world's population and the second largest economy. Beijing is the second most important user of the Panama Canal, the president also said.
The Panama`s decision leaves Taiwan with just 20 diplomatic allies around the world, as Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island, attempts to isolate it on the international stage.
While the sides had maintained an undeclared diplomatic truce for much of the past decade, relations have deteriorated under Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office more than a year ago but declined to endorse China’s view that Taiwan and the mainland are part of a single Chinese nation. The Panamanian shift drew an angry response from Taiwan. Foreign ministry in Taipei issued a statement accusing Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela of "caving in" to economic pressure from mainland China.