Panama does not expect any change in its relations with Taiwan or China, a senior official from the isthmus nation said on Friday, despite increased pressure from Beijing on Taiwan’s allies to sever ties.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is to visit Central America next month, against a tense backdrop after news of her telephone call with US president-elect Donald Trump angered China earlier this month.
Panama is one of Taiwan’s oldest friends, but some diplomats in Beijing have said the Central American country could become the next nation to break ties.
“Relations with Taiwan are good, in excellent condition as always,” Panamanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Miguel Hincapie said in an interview. “They’ve been a cooperative partner of Panama for many years, and will continue to be so.”
Tsai is not scheduled to visit Panama on her trip, which is to encompass Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Hincapie also said that the country’s relationship with China was “excellent” and did not comment on whether there had been any pressure from China to break with Taiwan.
“China is an investor in Panama, a user of the [Panama] Canal, a very important user of the canal,” the minister said.
Asked about what impact US president-elect Donald Trump’s support for Taiwan could have on Panama, Hincapie said: “We have relations with Taiwan, the United States does not ... so it’s an issue for the United States.”
Since the mid-1990s, almost a third of Taiwan’s allies have broken ties. It now has formal relations with just 21, mostly smaller and poorer nations in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.
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