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Panama Canal dissociates from controversy over location of Chinese embassy

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  • Tue, 09/18/2018 - 17:55
Jorge Luis Quijano
  • laestrella.com.pa

The Panama Canal today dissociated itself from the controversy raised in the Central American country regarding the possible location of the Chinese embassy on the shore of the interoceanic route and said that this issue is the exclusive responsibility of the Government.

"It's a matter of the Foreign Ministry and the president, it's not a matter of the Panama Canal, nor of its board of directors or the Administration," Jorge Luis Quijano, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, told reporters.

Panamanian president, Juan Carlos Varela, confirmed last week that his Government is analyzing several places to locate the headquarters of the Chinese diplomatic delegation, including the Calzada de Amador, a spit of land connecting several parallel islands to the Pacific interoceanic canal which was a US naval base.

The decision has raised some controversy in the country, as certain sectors of society consider it "offensive" that a flag of another country flies in that symbolic territory, which was the first military base that the United States returned to Panama after signing in 1977 the Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

The Panama Canal, through which 6 percent of world trade passes, is one of the great works of modern engineering, built and administered by the United States from 1904 until December 31, 1999.

"Our ties with China is the commercial exchange of their ships, which pass through here and carry goods in one direction or another, but beyond that it is not a canal issue (...) I do not have any comments, I stay out," said Quijano.

China, with whom Panama established relations in June of last year and negotiates a free trade agreement (FTA), is the second most important user of the canal, behind the United States, as well as being the first supplier of the Colón Free Zone, the largest free zone in the hemisphere, located in the Panamanian Caribbean.

Both countries agreed to cede public lands for a period of 70 years to locate their respective embassies. The place where the Panamanian diplomatic legation will be located is already chosen and it is only necessary to decide the place for the Chinese headquarters.

The diplomatic turn of Panama and other countries in the region, such as the Dominican Republic and El Salvador towards China and to the detriment of Taiwan, has caused the government of President Donald Trump to call for consultations on August 7 to several of his diplomats in those countries. 

 

Source: EFE

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