Panama, one of the few countries to recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty, has cut ties with the island and forged relations with China, adding there there was “only one China” of which Taiwan was a part.
China’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said the country highly appreciate(s) and warmly welcome(s)” the move. The reaction from Taipei was angry. The Foreign Ministry said Panama “caved in to Beijing … for economic gain,” calling the move “highly disrespectful.”
Panama is the latest country to switch from its recognition of Taiwan as the official representative of China. The move follows a similar one last December by Sao Tome and Principe, the African island nation, which aligned itself with Beijing.
At issue is the status of China: Following the civil war, which ended in 1950, the nationalist Kuomintang-led (KMT) government in Taipei declared itself as the legitimate Chinese government. Indeed, much of the world, including the U.S., until 1979, recognized Taiwan as the official Chinese government. (The United Nations did so in 1971.) But in the decades since then, the nations of the world cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan—many still maintain trade links—and recognized the Communist Party-run government in Beijing as the legitimate representative of China. Until Tuesday’s announcement by Panama, 21 nations recognized Taiwan as China—many of them in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific. All receive Taiwanese financial assistance.