Termination of diplomatic relations with Panama

  • Date: 2017-06-23

I. Background

Following more than a century of diplomatic ties between the Republic of China and the Republic of Panama, the government of Panama led by President Juan Carlos Varela—caving in to Beijing for economic gain, and disregarding the longstanding bonds of solidarity and friendship between the peoples of the ROC and Panama and the ROC’s longstanding support for Panama’s national development—made a unilateral decision on June 13 to sever diplomatic relations with the ROC and establish ties with the authorities in Beijing.

The ROC government vigorously protests and condemns this decision. To uphold the sovereignty and dignity of the nation, the ROC on the same day also terminated diplomatic relations with Panama, closing its embassy in Panama, recalling its technical mission, and ending all bilateral cooperation and aid programs.

That same day, President Tsai Ing-wen in a statement said, “Although we have lost a diplomatic ally, our refusal to engage in a diplomatic bidding war will not change. The fact that the Republic of China exists will not change. And Taiwan’s value and standing in the international community will not change.”

II. Government’s position and response

A. The ROC will not engage in checkbook diplomacy or diplomatic competition

Over the years, Taiwan’s government and people have fully supported Taiwan’s diplomatic allies through experience-sharing and development projects. We are able and willing to continue supporting such efforts, and will work tirelessly to protect our existing diplomatic relationships. But we will not engage in a diplomatic bidding war.

B. The ROC’s existence as a sovereign country remains an undeniable fact

As President Tsai has stated, “We are a sovereign country. This sovereignty cannot be challenged nor traded. Beijing has continued to manipulate the ‘one China’ principle and pressure Taiwan’s international space, threatening the rights of the Taiwanese people. But it remains undeniable that the Republic of China is a sovereign country. This is a fact Beijing will never be able to deny.”

C. The government will ensure the stability of Taiwan’s economy

Following the termination of diplomatic relations, the ROC government has taken necessary measures to ensure the stability of Taiwan’s economy. We will continue to protect the rights of Taiwanese businesses and overseas communities in Panama. Diplomats in Panama will also uphold Taiwan’s national interests and complete their mission in a dignified manner.

D. The government remains committed to defending Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity, safeguarding our people’s interests and well-being, and maintaining regional peace and stability

For more than a year since taking office in May 2016, the administration has shown restraint and good will toward mainland China and worked to maintain peaceful and stable cross-strait relations. We oppose mainland China’s wrongful actions of limiting Taiwan’s international space and forcing its political will on Taiwan. We remain resolute in our commitment to defending Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity, safeguarding the interest and well-being of our people, and maintaining regional peace and stability.

E. Taiwan will continue practicing steadfast diplomacy to expand its international space and gain the international status it is entitled to

Since taking office, President Tsai has advocated a new foreign relations concept of “steadfast diplomacy and mutual benefits.” Steadfast diplomacy, in essence, means taking a steadfast approach, seeing and experiencing things first-hand, and using these cumulative experiences to achieve breakthroughs in actual diplomatic situations. It also means sharing Taiwan’s values and technologies with our friends around the world, and making an effort to contribute to global prosperity and peace.

Regarding foreign aid or cooperative projects, Taiwan will abandon the past approach of providing unilateral assistance and think instead about building reciprocal benefits and mutual assistance. Taiwan and its diplomatic partners will be open and transparent about project funding, and design mutually beneficial projects that deepen interactions and exchanges for both sides.

III. Conclusion

For many years, the people and government of Taiwan have fully supported Taiwan’s diplomatic allies through experience-sharing and development projects. We are willing and able to help our allies in all areas concerned, but we will not engage in checkbook diplomacy or diplomatic competition. While we have lost a diplomatic ally, our refusal to engage in a diplomatic bidding war will not change. The fact of the ROC’s existence will not change. And Taiwan’s value and standing in the international community will not change.

The ROC government remains resolute in defending the nation’s sovereignty and dignity, protecting the interests and well-being of our people, and maintaining peace and stability in the region at large. We call on citizens everywhere to unite and address this diplomatic situation together, demonstrating Taiwan’s indomitable spirit, and protecting our democratic values and international space.