Panama Opens Embassy in Beijing
Panama announced it has opened an embassy in China after cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan in June. The announcement was made as a delegation of Chinese business chiefs was on a visit to Panama to explore investment opportunities.
“The opening of the Republic of Panama’s embassy in the People’s Republic of China was done in accordance with the principles that frame the diplomatic relations between both countries,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. It added that the embassy was already functioning, although an ambassador had yet to be installed.
Panama established diplomatic ties with China in June and broke with Taiwan in a major victory for Beijing. Previously, Panama maintained trade relations with China. But with the upgrade in ties, it now hopes to become a key point for China’s interests in Central America.
China is already the second-biggest user of the Panama Canal, after the United States.
It is currently Panama’s fourth-biggest trading partner and a major supplier to its Colon free trade zone.
Panama imports US$1.2 billion worth of goods from China each year and sends US$50 million worth of exports to China.
Panama’s business community, which encouraged the embrace of Beijing and helped drive the diplomatic deal, cheered the decision to establish full ties with China, hoping to deepen links with a key customer of the nation’s shipping canal.