Taiwan’s influence around the globe has been dealt yet another substantial blow with Panama severing ties with Taipei, and establishing them with Beijing.
China’s official Xinhua news agency announced earlier today that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterpart from Panama, Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, had signed a joint communique in Beijing establishing formal diplomatic relations between the two governments for the first time.
In the communique, China and Panama agree to “develop friendly relations… 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.” Of course, in addition, Panama also promises to abide by the “one China” policy, acknowledging the PRC as the only legal government of China’s territory, which extends to the island of Taiwan.
Therefore, Panama has severed its official diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Previously, Panama had recognized the Republic of China government since its founding back in 1912. Tsai Ing-wen paid a visit to Panama just last June on her first trip overseas as Taiwan’s president.
The move has drawn sharp criticism from Taiwan’s foreign ministry, which expressed “anger and regret” over the “very unfriendly” diplomatic turn, scolding Panama for “ignoring the many years of friendship” the two sides had built up and stressing that Taipei would not compete with Beijing in “dollar diplomacy.”
There are now only 20 countries around the world which still have full diplomatic relations with the Republic of China — a number that seems to be shrinking fast. Many of these countries are located in Central America (Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua) where Beijing has stepped up economic investment in an attempt to lure away allies of Tsai’s government.
Last December, the tiny African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe suddenly severed diplomatic ties with Taipei, before re-establishing relations with Beijing less than a week later. Afterward, Taiwan’s foreign minister also said that Taipei refused to engage in “dollar diplomacy” with Beijing.
[Images via Xinhua]
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