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President Xi Jinping and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela walk together during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday. FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY
Presidents Xi and Varela witness signing of deals one day after embassy opens in Beijing
China and Panama signed 19 cooperation documents covering such areas as finance, agriculture, trade and tourism in a ceremony witnessed on Friday by the presidents of the two countries.
The agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed in Beijing during the state visit of Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela. Diplomatic relations between China and Panama were established in June after Panama cut its ties with China’s Taiwan. On Thursday, Varela inaugurated Panama’s embassy in Beijing.
President Xi Jinping hosted a grand ceremony at the square in front of the Great Hall of the People to welcome the Latin American president.
During their talks, Xi expressed appreciation for the strategic vision, political courage and responsible manner demonstrated by the Panamanian president in the process of establishing diplomatic relations with China.
“It has sent an important message to the world; that is, the history of China-Panama relations has turned to a brand new page,” Xi told Varela.
Mentioning that China-Panama relations have been delayed for decades, Xi said the old page has been left behind.
In the talks, Xi called for joint efforts with the Panamanian side to safeguard principles and maintain justice in international affairs, boost common development through cooperation, and bring more happiness for the people of both countries.
The cooperation of all areas between the two countries has been launched rapidly since the establishment of diplomatic relations five months ago, Xi said, adding that he would like to make joint efforts with Varela to draw the blueprint for bilateral ties.
Noting that Varela is the first Panamanian president to make a state visit to China, Xi said Varela is also the first head of state from Latin America received by China after the Communist Party of China’s 19th National Congress, held last month.
The establishment of China-Panama diplomatic relations on the basis of the one-China principle has fulfilled the dream of generations of people from both sides, given that the people of the two countries have kept friendly exchanges since 160 years ago, Xi said.
Hailing the visit as a “historic event”, Varela said he has been longing for the moment to celebrate the establishment of Panama-China diplomatic relations on the basis of the one-China principle.
The first Chinese went to Panama 160 years ago to join the country’s railway construction, and they also participated in building the Panama Canal, Varela said, adding that about 10 percent of Panamanians have Chinese blood.
Varela congratulated Xi on the success of the CPC’s 19th National Congress, saying that the congress has sent an important message that politics should serve the people.
The people of both countries firmly believe that establishing Panama-China diplomatic relations will bring long-term benefits for them, Varela said, adding that it will also promote Panama’s sustainable economic development.
Zhao Bentang, director-general of the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the talks between Xi and Varela were “enthusiastic, friendly and fruitful”.
“The two presidents underlined a political basis, which is to respect each other’s core interests and abide by the one-China principle, thus to lay the foundation for the development of bilateral relations,” he said.
“Panama reiterated that it will strictly abide by the one-China principle and resolutely oppose any action that is contrary to this principle, and China appreciated this position,” he added.