Chinese envoy says nothing to fear from Xi's visit to Panama


China's President Xi Jinping will seek during his upcoming historic visit to Panama to give a new impetus to bilateral relations and is not coming with imperialist ambitions, the Chinese ambassador to the Central American nation said Friday.

Xi "is not coming to take over the Colon Free Zone, nor to open another canal, nor to impose Chinese ideologies or political systems, nor any of the other untruths that have been told," Wei Qiang said.

Xi will visit Panama on Dec. 2-3 to meet with his Panamanian counterpart, Juan Carlos Varela, who for his part made a state visit to China in late 2017, six months after breaking ties with Taiwan.

At a press conference, Ambassador Wei said the strategy with which China is opening itself to the world is "honest, transparent" and on a footing of equality.

He regretted that the Asian giant has recently been the object of "unfounded" allegations of exercising "imperialism."

He added that China values the sovereignty of every independent state, and that the last thing his government wants is to see the sovereignty of a friendly country like Panama undermined, its political and socioeconomic system compromised, or the interests of its strategic and traditional partners harmed in any way.

During his visit to Panama after taking part in the G-20 Summit in Argentina, Xi will also meet with business owners and executives and will tour the canal, through which passes 6 percent of world trade and whose chief client is the United States, followed by China.

It is planned that Panama and China, currently in negotiations to sign a free trade agreement, will also wrap up during Xi's state visit a score of accords in matters of cooperation, which will be added to those signed last year during Varela's trip to Beijing.

Xi's visit, the ambassador said, "has a transcendental importance because of its great historic significance, given that this is the first visit of a Chinese head of state to Panama.

The decision by Panama and other countries in the region, like the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, to sever ties with Taiwan in favor of relations with China provoked the US government to call home for consultation its diplomatic envoys in those countries.

And last month, during a brief visit to Panama, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "we want to make sure that everyone has a very open eye on China's relations in this country and in the region."

The Chinese ambassador denied that Xi's visit will affect relations between Panama and the United States, and answered Pompeo by saying that his country's embassy here has a "vocation of creating friendship instead of enmity," and recalled China's growing interest in Latin America.

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