Panama cut ties with Taiwan on Tuesday, switching allegiance to the People’s Republic of China and further isolating the small island nation in favor of the “One China” policy.

China and Panama issued a joint statement saying they would immediately establish ambassador-level relations.

“The Government of the Republic of Panama recognizes that there is only one China in the world,” the joint statement said. “The government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”

The Panamanian decision drew an angry response from Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China (ROC). Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it will remove its diplomatic staff from Panama City and halt bilateral cooperation efforts. The ministry issued a statement accusing Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela of “caving in” to economic pressure from mainland China.

“The ROC government strongly condemns Panama’s act, and reiterates that it will not engage in checkbook diplomacy with the Beijing authorities,” the statement said.

Panama’s move to recognize China leaves only about 20 global governments, mostly small Caribbean and African nations such as St. Lucia and Swaziland, in the Taiwan camp.

China is a major client of the Panama Canal and crucial investor in Panama’s development. Most nations, including the U.S., already recognize China as the legitimate government. And China doesn’t need state recognition to continue strengthening its economic ties.

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SOURCE: USA Today, John Bacon

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