PANAMA CITY – China, the No. 2 user of the Panama Canal, recognizes the Central American nation’s important role in Beijing’s quest for “global connectivity,” Chinese Ambassador Wei Qiang said on Monday.
Panama, a transportation and statistics hub that is also home to a major financial center, is a “strategic site” for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative, the envoy told a press conference in Panama City.
China’s concept of global connectivity goes beyond the purely economic sphere in seeking “to improve cooperation among nations and to generalize benefits for all members of society,” Wei said.
He pointed out that Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, has expressed support for the “essential ideas” of China’s initiative on more than one occasion.
Panama’s interest in deepening the region’s relations with Beijing is reflected by the presence of Varela’s chief of staff, Alvaro Aleman, and other senior Panamanian officials at this week’s China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Chile, Wei said.
The ambassador said that China is committed is helping Panama “achieve more substantive development in infrastructure, logistics and trade,” while noting that representatives of the Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC) visited the country last week to explore investment opportunities.
While officials from both countries are currently studying the feasibility of a bilateral trade deal and of building a high-speed rail line across Panama, Wei said.