PANAMA CITY, June 12 (Xinhua) -- It has been a fruitful 12 months since China and Panama established diplomatic ties a year ago, said Panama's Vice Foreign Minister Luis Miguel Hincapie.
In an interview with Xinhua, Hincapie described the relationship as "successful and eventful," saying that a lot has happened in the relatively short span of time.
Given the great significance of the Panama-China ties, the Panamanian Foreign Ministry has set up a special team for China affairs, he said.
"It's not every day that you establish ties with a country as large as China," said Hincapie, adding that bilateral ties could bring enormous opportunities for the Central American country.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties on June 13, 2017, the two countries have witnessed frequent exchanges of high-level visits, highlighted by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela's state visit to China, he noted.
Varela visited China in November, becoming the first Panamanian head of state to do so.
During the visit, the two countries signed a raft of cooperation agreements, covering areas such as trade and investment, transportation, human resources, and tourism, among others.
One of the key achievements so far is the launch of a direct flight between Panama City and Beijing, with a stopover in Houston, said Hincapie.
"That is what we wanted, for Panama to become China's gateway to the rest of the (Latin American) region," said the official.
Panama is perhaps the regional country best positioned to take part in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, given that it is home to the Panama Canal, a major passway in global trade, he added.
The two countries should continue to work to promote tourism, by exploring the possibility of opening more consulates in major Chinese cities, to promote agricultural and technological cooperation, and to boost cultural exchanges, especially among the youths, he said.
China is a country with a long history and has a bonanza of cultural heritages, he said, adding that it is important for the two countries to conduct cultural exchanges.