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Cablegate: No Decision Imminent On China/Taiwan Diplomatic

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 001953

SIPDIS


STATE PASS AIT/W


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/30/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL TW CH PM POL CHIEF
SUBJECT: NO DECISION IMMINENT ON CHINA/TAIWAN DIPLOMATIC
RECOGNITION


REF: AIT TAIPEI 2208


Classified By: AMBASSADOR LINDA E. WATT, REASON 1.5 B, D


1. IN A BREAKFAST MEETING ON JULY 29, PANAMA'S VICE
PRESIDENT-ELECT (AND PRESUMPTIVE FOREIGN MINISTER) SAMUEL
LEWIS NAVARRO TOLD AMBASSADOR THAT THE INCOMING TORRIJOS
GOVERNMENT IS FAR FROM MAKING A DECISION ON THE POSSIBILITY
OF DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION OF CHINA. REFERRING TO LEWIS' JUNE
30 INQUIRY TO THE AMBASSADOR AS TO U.S. VIEWS ON THE SUBJECT,
SHE INFORMED HIM THAT SHE HAD DISCUSSED THE ISSUE WITH SENIOR
DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS DURING RECENT CONSULTATIONS IN
WASHINGTON, AND WAS AUTHORIZED TO SAY THAT THE U.S. VIEWED
THIS AS A SOVEREIGN PANAMANIAN DECISION. SHE URGED HIM TO
CONSIDER ALL THE RAMIFICATIONS OF A CHANGE, OR LACK OF
CHANGE, IN DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION, AND NOTED THAT IT WOULD BE
VIEWED IN A BROADER CONTEXT IN THE U.S. AND ELSEWHERE.


2. LEWIS NAVARRO SAID THAT THE INCOMING ADMINISTRATION IS
UNDER HEAVY PRESSURE BY BOTH CHINA AND TAIWAN REGARDING
DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION, BUT THAT PANAMA'S INCOMING GOVERNMENT
WOULD VERY CAREFULLY CONSIDER THE ISSUE BEFORE COMING TO ANY
DECISION. "WE ARE NOT LEANING IN EITHER DIRECTION AT THIS
TIME", SPECIFICALLY ASSURING THE AMBASSADOR THAT IN ANY EVENT
TORRIJOS WOULD DO NOTHING PRIOR TO THE U.S. ELECTIONS TO
AVOID HAVING THIS SUBJECT BECOME A POLITICAL FOOTBALL. HE
ADDED THAT HE WOULD HOPE TO HAVE AN ONGOING DIALOGUE WITH US
OVER THE NEXT MONTHS AS THEY CONSIDER THE OPTIONS.


3. THE AMBASSADOR INQUIRED AS TO ANY CONNECTION BETWEEN THE
PLANS FOR CANAL MODERNIZATION AND THE QUESTION OF
CHINA/TAIWAN RECOGNITION. LEWIS DENIED ANY LINK; INDEED, HE
AFFIRMED THAT THE TORRIJOS ADMINISTRATION IN NO WAY WISHED TO
RESURRECT THE NOW MORIBUND ACCUSATION OF ALLEGED "CONTROL OF
THE PANAMA CANAL" BY THE CHINESE.


4. IN A SEPARATE CONVERSATION RECENTLY, THE AMBASSADOR ASKED
PANAMA CANAL ADMINISTRATOR ALBERTO ALEMAN ZUBIETA HIS VIEWS
ON THE RECOGNITION OF CHINA VERSUS TAIWAN. ALEMAN, WHILE
ACKNOWLEDGING TAIWAN'S SHIPPING INTERESTS AND ITS UBIQUITOUS
AID PROGRAM, BELIEVES THAT PANAMA'S INTERESTS CLEARLY LIE
WITH CHINA, GIVEN THAT COUNTRY'S EXTENSIVE TRADE VIA THE
CANAL AND THE DOMINANCE OF ITS PRODUCTS IN THE COLON FREE
ZONE.


5. COMMENT: WHILE IT IS TOO SOON TO TELL, WE ASSESS THAT THE
ODDS ARE WITH CHINA. TORRIJOS AND LEWIS ARE NOT UNAWARE OF
THE LARGER IMPLICATIONS OF A CHANGE IN RECOGNITION, AND THESE
CONSIDERATIONS WILL AFFECT THEIR DECISION. WE HAVE LAID DOWN
AN IMPORTANT MARKER REGARDING CHINA AND THE CANAL, AND WANT
TO ENSURE NO HINT OF ANY QUID PRO QUO VIS-A-VIS CANAL
MODERNIZATION OR FINANCING.
WATT

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