Panama Ditches Taiwan 'Under One-China Policy'

Published: June 13, 2017 - 16:57 Updated: July 31, 2017 - 14:48

The question that still remains is where will this change leave Taiwan? Will the remaining countries maintain ties with the island, or switch like Panama?


Panama, considering Taiwan as a part of China, breaks all ties with the island to establish diplomatic relations with the Asian giant. Under the “One-China Policy”, Panama cuts the lost standing ties with Taiwan.

What is One-China Policy?

The policy states in diplomatic acknowledgement that there is only one Chinese government. Under the policy, the US recognises and has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day. Even though Taiwan's government claims it is an independent country (officially called the ‘Republic of China’), any country that wants diplomatic relations with mainland China must break official ties with Taipei that it considers a ‘breakaway province.’

As stated by the Foreign minister of Panama, claiming interest in China for the past 10 years helped Beijing in bagging a major victory in its attempt of isolating the self-governing island that it wants to claim under its territory.

A similar incidence happened in December when Sao Tome and Principe switched ties from Taiwan to China, all under the Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. With this, now only 20 countries have relations with Taipei, which used to be a glorious 30 in the mid 1980’s.

An angry Taiwan accuses Panama of ‘bullying’, in an attempt of expressing regret, also claims that Panama has ditched Taipei of “many years of friendship” in this unfriendly act and accuses the nation of being driven by ‘money diplomacy.’  

With Panama having no reasons for this change in ties, the Chinese government and its people ‘highly appreciate and warmly welcome’ as both the nations mutually agree upon ‘developing good friendly relations on the principles of mutual respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, mutual non-interference in internal affairs, mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence’ as stated on the website of China’s Foreign Ministry.

The statement claimed, “The Panamanian government is today breaking its 'diplomatic ties' with Taiwan, and pledges to end all relations or official contact with Taiwan.” Panama, being one of Taiwan’s oldest friends, claimed as recently as December, that there is no expectation of any change in Panama's relations with Taiwan or China.

Panama being one of the most significant countries that still maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan, China had definite reasons for celebration over the win. Which they did, as both foreign ministers of Panama and China cling glasses of champagne in Beijing over the signing of documents that laid down their diplomatic relations.


This should be a wake-up call for Tsai’s government that China neither plays a fair fight, nor does it give up easily. China claims with this action, that continuation of self dependency of the Republic of China will lead to consequences.

Since the growing economic corporation of both China and Panama, and development of Chinese ports in one of the most vital shipping routes, the Panama Canal, it was pretty evident to expect such a change in policies. Given China's rapid growth as an economic and political superpower, it has been increasingly easier for Beijing to sway countries to its side.

The question that still remains is where will this change leave Taiwan? Will the remaining countries maintain ties with the island, or switch like Panama? The Central American countries are speculated by some diplomats in Beijing that might end up breaking ties with Taipei as well.