Panama cuts ties with Taiwan, switches to China

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Regarded as big blow for Taiwan, China and Panama signed a joint communique here formally establishing full-fledged diplomatic relations.

Lu Kang made the remarks at a daily press briefing when asked whether the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Panama Tuesday means the end of a "diplomatic truce" between the mainland and Taiwan.

"The Government of the Republic of Panama recognizes that only one China exists in the world, the Government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all China, and Taiwan forms an inalienable part of Chinese territory", a joint statement from China and Panama read.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced on television Monday evening that he was establishing diplomatic ties with China and breaking with Taiwan, saying he was "convinced this is the correct path for our country".

"This is a historic moment, China-Panama relations have opened a new chapter", Wang said, adding that Panama's decision was in "complete accordance" with its people's interests and "in keeping with the times".

China is the second most important user of the Panama channel after the United States.

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Panama is the second country to break with Taiwan since Tsai's election past year, after the small African islands of Sao Tome and Principe.

In the aftermath of Panama's defection to Beijing, Taiwan's government said it would reevaluate its approach to cross-strait relations and would not rule out any possibility - including a potential change to the status quo.

"This kind of action is not only an open threat to Taiwanese people's survival and welfare but also an open provocation to peace and stability in the Taiwan strait and the region".

The move by Panama this week was the clearest sign yet of China's drive to increase pressure on Taiwan's independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen.

In Central America, all states recognized Taiwan in 2010 when Costa Rica broke its diplomatic relations with the island.

Tsai has refused to acknowledge the concept that Taiwan is part of "one China", unlike her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou.

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