Viewing cable 04PANAMA1953
Title: NO DECISION IMMINENT ON CHINA/TAIWAN DIPLOMATIC

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04PANAMA19532004-08-02 18:58:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Panama
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