Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela (L) and Foreign Minister Wang Yi inaugurate the Chinese embassy in Panama City, Panama, on Sept 17, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]
The national flag of the People’s Republic of China was hoisted for the first time on Sept 17 at the inauguration ceremony of the Chinese embassy in Panama, a milestone in the two countries’ diplomatic relations which were established in June.
From early morning, guests from the Chinese community, Panamanian locals, business leaders as well as other important figures from the two nations came to witness the historic moment.
The event was chaired by Foreign Minister Wang Yi and President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela.
“The embassy in Panama will be the new home for the Chinese community and Chinese companies. It will provide them with support and warmth when they have needs or find themselves in difficulty,” said Wang to the assembled crowd, after the anthems of China and Panama were played.
Wang also expressed his gratitude to all those who made the establishment of diplomatic relations possible, such as the Chinese community which first arrived in Panama about 160 years ago.
He said that the two countries were charting down a new long-term path which “will bring hope, cooperation and mutual benefits,” adding that although there were delays in the China-Panama relationship, “bilateral ties have finally entered the correct state for the times.”
“History will remember that the decision to establish diplomatic relations between Panama and China met the fundamental, long-term interest of both countries,” said Wang in the speech.
President Varela also proclaimed the “opportunity to be the Panamanian president” with the honor of “officially inaugurating the Chinese embassy.”
He stated that it was the will of both countries to build a “relationship of trust,” accompanied by dialogue and mutual benefits.
Varela vowed to “always seek common good and prosperity for our peoples.”
After the ceremony, the participants of the event expressed their joy at the start of diplomatic relations and the opening of the Chinese embassy.
“This is a happy day for Panama and for China,” Isabel de Saint Malo, Panama’s vice-president and foreign minister, told Xinhua.
Eloy Cong, a representative of the China-Panama Association, said that this was the “start of a good relationship and a good start for honesty and commitment between the two sides.”
Rafael Bandeira, Bolivia’s ambassador to Panama, congratulated China and Panama in the name of his country.
“This is an act of justice for the (Chinese) migrants who have continued to contribute to Panama’s economic development ... this was necessary for international relations, it will not only benefit Panama but also the entire region by continuing to build integral development, and the integration of regional economies,” said Bandeira.
Wang arrived in Panama on Sept 16, where he was received by Varela.
The two sides agreed to advance the over 20 ongoing negotiations linked to commercial and tourism exchanges. Other deals are being discussed, related to investments, merchant cargo shipping, energy and transportation.
In June, Panama became the second Central American country to establish diplomatic relations with China, after Costa Rica in 2007.