Almost weekly in the news, you'll see coverage of some program sponsored by the Taiwanese. Last week it was the multimillion dollars Motor Vehicle Registration and License System, and on Friday it will be a cultural exchange program for primary and secondary schools.
And while Taiwan continues to play an active role in Belizean public affairs, as it does in other central American countries, not so for Panama, well not anymore at least. News broke today that Panama has severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switched over to China. It is a major loss to Taiwan, which is now only recognized by 19 countries, including Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In the 90's they were recognized by over 20 nations. This year, Panama is the second country to switch allegiances over to mainland China; the first was the African island nation of Sao Tome and PrÃncipe.
Taiwan responded defiantly with a press release saying it "has terminated diplomatic relations with the Republic of Panama...(and) will close its embassy in Panama, recall its technical mission, and end all bilateral cooperation and aid programs. The angry press release says President Juan Carlos Varela, quote, "caved in to Beijing and decided to switch its diplomatic engagement toward the Beijing authorities for economic gain. In a highly disrespectful manner, it left the ROC in the dark about its decision until the final moments." It adds, quote, "The ROC government strongly condemns Panama's act, and reiterates that it will not engage in checkbook diplomacy with the Beijing authorities." End quote.
And while Taiwan is angry, other countries could also be induced to switch. the New York Times quotes an international relations expert who says that it is very possible that the remaining countries (in Central America) will switch.