- Archivo / Presidencia de la República de Panamá
On Sunday, Panama President Juan Carlos Varela requested respect for the sovereign decisions of his country and highlighted the historic cooperation ties with the US, which on Friday called its diplomatic representatives for consultations over the ties established by the Central American country with China more than a year ago.
"We respect the sovereign decisions of other countries and equally we will always ask for the same respect to ours, to continue strengthening bilateral relations and thus continue to advance to position ourselves as a country of union, dialogue, consensus and peace," Varela said in a statement.
The government of President Donald Trump called last Friday for consultations with its business manager in Panama, Roxanne Cabral, and its ambassadors to the Dominican Republic, Robin Bernstein, and to El Salvador, Jean Manes, over "recent decisions to avoid recognizing Taiwan" in favor of China.
"As a sovereign country, we will always take our foreign policy decisions based on the interests of the Republic of Panama, and we are also confident that the best interests of Panama do not wrangle with the interests of our strategic partners," the Panamanian president said on Saturday.
He recalled that Panama "has a historical tradition of 115 years with the people and governments of the United States, with its institutions and security agencies."
"We have worked and will continue to work together with the United States to maintain political and social stability in the region," said Varela, after highlighting bilateral cooperation "in the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism."
Both countries also share "values of democracy and freedom", and their "economic models are based on free enterprise and development" of their "nations in the pursuit of welfare" of citizens, added the president of Panama.
Panama entered into diplomatic relations with China in June 2017, while the Dominican Republic as well as El Salvador in May and August. The three countries are part of the Central American Integration System (SICA), whose other member, Costa Rica, was the first in the region to establish those ties in 2007.
Relations with China mean the breaking of ties with Taiwan, considered a rebel province by the Chinese Government and which only has 17 diplomatic allies in the world, of which nine are in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, other SICA partners.
"Until today the Republic of Panama lacked diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, a state that represents 20 percent of the world's population and constitutes the second largest economy in the world. This is a situation that cannot continue being perpetrated by a responsible leader" said Varela when announcing the decision on his speech broadcast on national radio and television on June 12, 2017.
Since then, the Panamanian Government has highlighted the advances in the bilateral relation with the signing of more than 20 million-dollar agreements and plans, such as a bullet train that would connect the capital with the province of Chiriquí, bordering Costa Rica.