Friday, June 25, 2004

Pnma: China demands break ties to Taiwan to be my friend

Chinese Vice-Premier Zhou Wen-zhong has visited Panama as part of a tour through Latin America and the Caribbean. He is the highest-ranking official of the People’s Republic of China ever to visit this country. Panama does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with the government in Beijing, which insists that we must break our ties with Taiwan in order to normalize relations. Nevertheless, China has a commercial office here which functions more or less like an embassy, the Chinese are the third-largest users of the canal and there are substantial Chinese business investments here. Advocates of a shift in China policy, which would involve a downgrading of relations with Taiwan and the establishment of formal ties with the People’s Republic of China, are mounting a strong lobbying campaign to get the incoming Torrijos administration to make the switch as one of its first acts in office. In the coalition that supported Torrijos the PRD is divided between friends of Taiwan and China, while the Partido Popular is pro-Beijing.
China's friendship comes with the loss of diplomatic autonomy for those Caribbean states (Dominica and Guyana) who have consented to trade relations with that communist country. Now, it seems that Panama, chasing Chinese yen, like Dominica and Guyana, might dump the democratic Taiwan from its rolodex and replace Taiwan with the communist China.

If Panama plays along, we'll be looking at the increasing global isolation of Taiwan, another strategic Chinese move to bring Taiwan to heel.

In their eagerness to bow to China, these countries are signaling that cash counts more than the democracy and freedom.


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