The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, said today that there is "no kind of tension" with the United States, after that country called its diplomatic representative for consultations over ties established by the Central American nation with China more than a year ago.
"I believe that (the US call for consultations) was led by the last decision taken by El Salvador and because the three countries that decided to support the one-China policy were called for consultations, a decision taken by the United States 40 years ago," said Varela.
The government of President Donald Trump called for consultations on August 7 to its business manager in Panama, Roxanne Cabral, and its ambassadors in the Dominican Republic, Robin Bernstein, and in El Salvador, Jean Manes, for the "recent decisions to avoid recognizing Taiwan in favor of China.
Panama broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established ties with China in June 2017, while the Dominican Republic and El Salvador did so in May and August of this year, respectively.
Varela said Trump's decision to call diplomats "are internal issues of the United States Government, which we respect" and said that the ties with China "will bring many benefits to Panama and will not affect relations with a strategic partner".
"Panama is a sovereign, neutral country that opens its doors and its canal to the world; the United States is the main user of the canal, China is the second and it is part of public life to make the right decisions for the benefit of the people," the president told journalists after participating in a hemispheric forum on sustainable development in Latin America.
The president explained that "all the products of China to the east coast of the United States" and "all the gas from the United States that goes to China" pass through the Panama Canal.
"Just as there were trade differences between Mexico and the United States, which were already resolved, and there were trade differences between the United States and Canada, which are going to be settled; if there are differences between the United States and China, it is their business," he added.
Taiwan is considered a sovereign territory with its own government and political system under the name of the Republic of China since the end of the civil war between nationalists and communists in 1949, but Beijing regards it as a rebel province and insists that it return to their homeland.
Taiwan is also one of the main reasons for the conflict between China and the United States, mainly because Washington is the main arms supplier in Taiwan and it would be its biggest military ally in the event of an armed conflict with China, in accordance with an agreement signed in 1979.
The Asian island has only 17 diplomatic allies in the world, of which nine are in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.