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Taiwan president condemns Beijing for Panama defection

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday condemned Beijing for being behind Panama's decision to sever its century-old diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

Shortly after the announcement, Tsai called a press conference and said Beijing had suppressed Taiwan on the international stage in a myriad of ways.

"However, the R.O.C. is a sovereign country. This is an indisputable truth. (Taiwan's) sovereignty cannot be challenged or exchanged," she said.

National security agencies had a full grasp of the situation, Tsai said, lauding them for continuing their best efforts throughout the deteriorating situation until the final disappointing result.

She said government agencies would work to ensure that the split does not affect Taiwan's economy and to defend the rights of Taiwanese businesspeople and expatriates.

Addressing Beijing, Tsai said Taiwan had upheld its responsibility when it came to maintaining cross-strait peace and stability. She condemned Beijing's actions, which she said have harmed the status quo.

"The people of Taiwan cannot accept this," Tsai said. "We cannot sit by and watch as Taiwan's interests are continually threatened and challenged."

Top Taiwanese government agencies issued statements denouncing long-time ally Panama's decision to form ties with Beijing.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Joseph Wu condemned Panama's decision in a statement during an earlier Presidential Office press conference.

He listed some of the results of Panama and Taiwan's joint projects, but emphasized that Taiwan would not turn to checkbook diplomacy.

Wu also issued a "serious condemnation"against Bejing's use of the "One China" policy to suppress Taiwan's international presence.

In light of the diplomatic setback, the Taiwan government will reevaluate the cross-strait situation, Wu said, saying Beijing's attempts were a "mistake" that would push cross-strait relations from peace to confrontation.

He urged Beijing to uphold its responsibility as a leading regional power and to cease actions that would continue to harm regional stability and the Taiwanese people.

MOFA Condemns Panama for Deceiving ROC

In a separate press conference, Foreign Minister David Lee announced that Taiwan would immediately terminate its own diplomatic ties with Panama.

He said Taiwan felt "deep anger and regret" toward Panama's decision.

Taiwan will halt all bilateral cooperative projects, cut all assistance to Panama, and pull out its diplomatic staff and technical missions from the country.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela had caved to Beijing's courtship, disregarding decades of Taiwan's assistance that had supported Panama's development, Lee said.

In a harshly worded statement, Lee also accused the Panamanian government of "deceiving the R.O.C. government until the last moment."

Panama's announcement reportedly came as a shock to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the Central American nation notifying Taipei only 40 minutes before holding a press conference on the matter.

Panama's Vice President Isabel Saint Malo signed a joint communique with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing early Tuesday to formally establish diplomatic relations.

Panama stressed it would not maintain any diplomatic ties with the R.O.C.

The Central American nation also agreed to recognize that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China, Central News Agency reported.

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