Panama Canal Current Affairs

Panama forges Diplomatic ties with China and breaks away with Taiwan

Panama has established formal diplomatic ties with China and broke all of its relationship with Taiwan in a move that is seen as a victory for China in its drive to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.

Panama’s Stand

Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela has announced that his country has upgraded its commercial ties with China and has established full diplomatic links with China. China is the second most important customer of the Panama Canal and the leading provider of merchandise to a free-commerce zone situated in the city of Colon in Panama.

In addition, Panama has stated that it is breaking off its formal relations with Taiwan. Panama has said that henceforth it recognizes ‘One China’ in the world and consider Taiwan to be an inalienable part of China’s territory. Hence, it has said that it will not maintain any more official relationship or official exchanges with Taiwan.

China has welcomed the decision taken by Panama. China in the recent years has been showering a lot of favours throughout Central America to woo them to break ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Response

Taiwan has said that it will immediately cut ties and cease all bilateral cooperation projects with Panama. It has also said that it will recall all of its diplomatic staff and technical advisers out of Panama. Panama is one of Taiwan’s oldest friends. Panama was one of the largest economies to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Panama is one of Taiwan’s oldest friends. Panama was one of the largest economies to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Background

Taiwan now has just 20 formal diplomatic partners after Panama has switched its ties. Of them, 12 partners belong to Latin America and the Caribbean.

China and Taiwan are being ruled by separate governments since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China’s constitution claims Taiwan to be a part of its own territory. While both the sides maintained an undeclared diplomatic truce in recent times, the relationship got deteriorated after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office last year.

At china’s insistence, Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations and many other multinational bodies like the World Health Organization and other international gatherings.

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Expanded Panama Canal reopens

Newly renovated and expanded Panama Canal was reopened by the Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela.

After the launch a giant Chinese container ship Cosco become the first vessel to move via the newly-enlarged Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

The expanded Panama Canal will allow a new, much-larger generation of container ships to pass through the isthmus of Panama.

About Panama Canal expansion project

  • The Panama Canal expansion project was approved in October 2006 after it was favoured by the national referendum by a 76.8% majority.
  • The project formally began in 2007 and was due to finish in 2014. But its completion was delayed by two years and it is estimated cost was $50 billion.
  • Panama Canal expansion project is also called as the Third Set of Locks Project. The new lane of the canal runs for 77km.
  • It doubles the existing capacity of the Panama Canal by adding a new lane of traffic allowing for a larger number of ships.
  • It also increases the depth and width of the lanes and locks allowing much-larger generation of container ships to pass.
  • It also has raised the maximum operating water level of Gatun Lake. Overall it will have a direct impact on economies of scale and international maritime trade.

About Panama Canal

  • The Panama Canal is an artificial 77 km waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.
  • The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade.
  • Strategically and economically it is one of the most important waterways in the world providing the shortest sea link between East Asia, North America and Europe.
  • Its opening in 1914 had provided alternative route to lengthy sea voyage around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan.
  • France had started work on the canal in 1881, but stopped it due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate.  Later US took over the project in 1904 and opened it in August 1914.
  • The canal was taken over or completely nationalised by the Panamanian government in 1999. Now it is managed and operated by the Panamanian government-owned Panama Canal Authority.

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