Panama recently turned its back on Taiwan to tie diplomatic relationship with the People Republic of China. This is the second time in the past several months a country cut its diplomatic ties with Taiwan. December last year, Sao Tome, the African island nation also cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan to comply with the People’s Republic One China Policy. It means, Taiwan now only has diplomatic relation with 20 countries, not including the Holy See.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed its regret and said that they were angered and disappointed by Panama’s action. Panama was one of Taiwan’s oldest and most faithful friends and the Central America’s country had strong and peaceful relation with Qing Dynasty since 1909, and kept following Taiwan even when it was separated from China.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said that its strained relation with Panama is caused by China’s money game. The Asian giant has used its financial power to lure many countries to acknowledge its One China Policy and now Panama also has taken the bait. Only several days after cutting diplomatic tie with Taiwan, it is reported that Panama’s foreign minister has signed diplomatic agreement with China, showing the country’s full support to One China Policy.
Recently, China indeed invested a lot of money in Central American’s countries including Panama. It is very likely that financial aid from China has encouraged Panama to turn its back on Taiwan. This reason is similar with why Sao Tome also cut its diplomatic relation with Taiwan.
Taiwan has expressed its condemnation to China and stated that China is actively force nations to cut ties with Taiwan by offering financial assistance. Since now Taiwan and Panama’s diplomatic relation has ended, Taiwan will immediately send its diplomatic staff back home to Taiwan to save its dignity.
Panama on the other hand, expressed no regrets in cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Even though Taiwan also has given plenty of financial assistance to Panama and the end of diplomatic relation also signifies the end of the financial aid, it seems like Panama doesn’t think of it as a big problem. China is Panama’s second biggest customer of the country’s shipping canal. As a result, strengthening ties with China means Panama will also strengthen its economic relation with China. Panama certainly can get by even without Taiwan’s financial aid if it has strong economic relation with the People’s Republic. The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela said that cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan is the right path for his country and building good relationship with China is essential to help the country grows.
The number of country that acknowledging Taiwan’s sovereignty has been decreasing for the past couple of decades. In 1990 Taiwan has 30 diplomatic relation but now ten has chosen to take side with China. The remaining twenty nations that still has diplomatic relation with Taiwan are small nation state with limited international reputation. In other countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Taiwan established a non-diplomatic representative office that mostly taking care of economic and social issues.