BEIJING – Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela said in Beijing on Saturday that diplomatic relations with China, established in June, will continue in the future, even if his party does not win the 2019 general elections.
Varela, for the first time on an official visit as head of state to the Asian country, thanked the “historic opportunity” that his government had to recognize for the first time the policy of “One China,” after breaking the relationship with Taiwan.
“When our government made the decision, it received the backing of 100 percent of its people and all the political parties,” Varela said during a conference at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) headquarters.
This change in the bilateral relations between China and Panama, accomplished for the first time despite efforts of many Panamanian presidents in the past, will bolster “China’s participation in the development of Latin America and Panama,” Varela added.
He also believes that other Central American countries will follow his government’s steps to establish diplomatic relations with China and break with Taiwan.
“I have talked with several presidents in the region and they are seeing how Panama made its decision, they respect it and they are very impressed about how fast it has progressed,” he said without revealing the names of the presidents.
The Panamanian president and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, chaired on Friday the signing of 19 cooperation agreements at the Great Hall of the People to promote trade, tourism, agricultural and industrial collaboration, investment and even the negotiation of a free trade agreement between both countries.
Besides, both the leaders reached an understanding regarding Panama’s participation in China’s “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure and telecommunications project.
The president said that bilateral relations with China would help Panama to promote peace in the region.
The President of the CICIR, Ji Zhiye, celebrated the diplomatic alliance between China and Panama, which he described as the “most open economy in Latin America” and praised it for its political stability, economic growth and social harmony.
Latin America is the main stronghold of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, since governments like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic or Haiti still do not have diplomatic ties with Beijing, but maintain them with Taipei.