China’s Xi on mission in Panama
CHINA’S President Xi Jinping and his Panamanian counterpart Juan Carlos Varela signed a string of cooperation agreements Monday as Beijing aims to extend its political and economic influence in Latin America.
Xi arrived in the Central American country late Sunday, fresh from striking a 90-day truce deal in the trade war with US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Argentina.
Xi and Varela signed a score of infrastructure, tourism and development cooperation agreements as Panama became the first Latin American country to partner with Beijing’s giant multi-billion dollar global investment initiative known as “Belt and Road.”
Xi’s visit comes after Panama broke ties with Taiwan last year and switched its allegiance to Beijing. Since Panama’s move, two other Central American countries – the Dominican Republic and El Salvador – have made the switch.
“Our bilateral relations have had a strong start after only a year and a half,” Xi said.
Varela said Xi’s visit – and the investment it brought – meant Panama would become “the gateway of China to Latin America.”
In a column written for local newspaper Xi said he had “high expectations” for the visit, the first ever by a Chinese leader to the country.