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Panama’s President Deepens Development Projects with Belt and Road and with Asia

April 4, 2019 (EIRNS)—President Juan Carlos Varela personally opened Panama’s new consulate in Guangzhou on April 1, on his third trip to China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in June 2017. Varela will visit a fourth time in April, for the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Varela reiterated during this trip that

“the Belt and Road is all about connectivity, and Panama is one of the most connected countries in the region.... So Panama is going to be part of that initiative because we see a big opportunity to connect Asia and America to Panama.”

Varela met with leading officials of the huge Guangdong province and addressed Hong Kong’s Development Council, but clearly a highlight of his trip was the personal tour and presentation on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge which he was given by the president of China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), which built it, and CCCC’s lead engineer on the project. Varela tweeted pictures of his tour, emphasizing that Panama has selected the CCCC to build the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal.

“Admirable vision of China in building the Great Bay, to connect Macao, Hong Kong and Guangdong. A great example of the impact of projects which foment connectivity between cities. This is the vision which we have for logistical and commercial development between Panama and Colon,”

Varela wrote.

Varela was in Japan today, meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan is providing the lead financing, engineering and equipment for the construction of Panama City’s third metro line. That line is to run across that fourth Canal bridge, with its terminus in the “City of the Future” 37 km away—which is where the planned high-speed railway to the border of Costa Rica is to start.

Varela’s Presidency ends in late June, and he is clearly working on getting such momentum going in Panama’s participation in the Belt and Road, that the next President, whoever it will be, will be hard put to reverse it.

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