Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, Douglas Shen, has expressed his government’s regret over Panama’s decision to sever ties with Taiwan in favour of establishing relations with China.
“Taiwan has had diplomatic relations with Panama for more than a century,” Shen observed.
Shen said over the years Taiwan has offered Panama support in many fields.
He explained that Taiwan is a sovereign independent state which believes the move by Panama should be condemned.
The Taiwanese diplomat asserted that his country has a right to play a role on the world stage and does not encourage ‘cheque diplomacy’.
Shen said the people of Taiwan are angry about the new development regarding China and Panama.
At the same time he said Taiwan wants to keep its good relationship with Saint Lucia and enhance it.
In announcing the severing of relations with Taiwan, the Panamanian government said it recognised there was “only one China” and considered Taiwan part of it.
The governments in Beijing and Taipei insist that countries cannot recognise both of them.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province.
Panama is the latest to switch sides, leaving Taiwan with about 20 allies.
China is the second biggest user – after the US – of the Panama Canal, which provides a shortcut through Central America for shipping between Asia and the Americas.
“Every country has its own way of thinking. I believe China must give something good to Panama and Panama maybe thinks it is good for their country, but we believe for the long term these kind of activities will only break the Taiwanese people’s heart and will push Taiwan further away from mainland China,” Ambassador Shen asserted.
The last country before Panama to switch its allegiance was the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, in December last year.
The Taiwan government has accused Panama of “bullying” Taiwan while “ignoring the many years of friendship” between the two countries.