PANAMA CITY – The Chinese government promised on Sunday a “new, completely beneficial era (of) shared development” with Panama during the inauguration of Beijing’s embassy in the Panamanian capital, three months after the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties.
The diplomatic headquarters, located in an exclusive residential portion of the capital, was inaugurated on Sunday by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela in a ceremony where both men emphasized in their speeches the advantages of formalizing bilateral relations.
“Despite certain setbacks in the China-Panama relationship, binational ties at last have entered into a proper channel ... History will record that the decision to establish diplomatic relations between Panama and China is in the basic and long-term interests of the two countries,” Wang said.
Panama and China established relations on June 13, which meant an automatic rupture by the Central American nation of its ties with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rebel province.
Taiwan, in turn, called Varela’s breaking of ties a “disloyal act.”
Wang said on Sunday that the new diplomatic status between the two nations “is going to create very broad opportunities for Panama’s national development and will bring greater wellbeing to its people,” an expectation expressed almost unanimously by representatives of Panama’s economic sectors since June.
The opening to China caused expectations of investment from Beijing in the computer and tech sectors to skyrocket, with the Spanish-speaking country’s government already speaking about a bilateral free trade agreement.
The Chinese foreign minister expressed his certainty that Varela’s “first visit” to Beijing, scheduled for later this year, “will culminate with full success and will initiate a new chapter in binational ties.”
Varela, meanwhile, said that Panama and China are negotiating more than 20 bilateral treaties and agreements in a wide variety of areas, adding that he was sure that they could be finalized quickly.
China is the second-biggest user of the Panama Canal, through which 6 percent of world trade passes, and the main user of the Colon Free Trade Zone, located on the Canal’s Caribbean side and the largest such complex in the hemisphere.