Months after breaking ties with Taiwan, Panama has opened its first embassy in China's capital of Beijing in what has been described as a "historic" move.
Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela hailed the move as “historic” and reiterated his commitment to the “One China” policy. After Taiwan split from China amid a civil war in 1949, Beijing instituted a diplomatic protocol that considers the region part of its territory.
Varela first considered axing diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2006, shortly after he became leader of his party, but he didn’t make the move until June of this year.
"The decision of the president is completely in the interest of the state, people and nation of Panama, and also in complete conformity with the global trend of development," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the opening ceremony. "It is a correct decision that will stand the test of history."
Varela, currently on a week-long visit to China, is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two are expected to sign a number of agreements on everything from the economy to trade and tourism.
In June, both countries highlighted the importance of mutual non-interference relations, emphasizing the need to develop friendly relations based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence.