Panamanian President-elect Juan Carlos Varela said Thursday that China "is the future," but he avoided saying that his government would initiate diplomatic relations with the Asian giant, given that the Central American country has such relations with Taiwan, a situation he promised to respect.

"Without any doubt, China is the future, but the diplomatic truce (of maintaining trade relations with China and diplomatic relations with Taiwan) must be respected," Varela told reporters after holding a meeting with the Editorial Council of local daily La Estrella de Panama.

In that regard, the next Panamanian leader, who will take office on July 1, said that "there is a diplomatic truce, and we are respectful of the diplomatic truce."

Panama maintains trade relations with China and diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the large island off the Chinese coast that Beijing considers to be a rebellious province.

On April 14, cooperation between Panama and China was pushed by Panamanian Foreign Minister Francisco Alvarez De Soto and the representative of China's Trade Development Office in the Central American country, Wang Weihua, at a meeting held at the Panamanian Foreign Ministry.

De Soto said at that meeting that it is "very important" for Panama to continue promoting relations with China, according to a communique released by the Foreign Ministry.

China is the second-biggest user of the Panama Canal, after the United States and, in addition, the Central American country for more than 40 years has been the springboard for the launching of Asian products in Latin America, according to the government. EFE