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Panama's switch from Taiwan to China hammered out quickly

Associated Press logo Associated Press 13/06/2017
A man pushes a dolly at the entrance of China town in Panama City, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Panama switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China on Tuesday, dealing a major success to Beijing in its drive to isolate the self-governing island it claims as its own territory. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco ) © The Associated Press A man pushes a dolly at the entrance of China town in Panama City, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Panama switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China on Tuesday, dealing a major success to Beijing in its drive to isolate the self-governing island it claims as its own territory. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco )

PANAMA CITY — Panamanian officials say the decision to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China was put in motion nearly a month ago — though the roots go back years.

Two Panamanian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations say the two sides began meeting a few weeks ago.

They say China agreed to solve one problem by helping about 80 Panamanians who've been studying at universities in Taiwan.

The officials said Tuesday that Panama didn't ask for any major infrastructure projects. China is already a major investor in the country.

Panamanian government spokesman Manuel Dominguez says Panama made the move to boost its economy.

President Juan Carlos Varela said years ago that he favored shifting recognition from Taiwan to China.

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