NEW YORK -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up a visit to Panama and Mexico on Friday, taking the opportunity to warn countries in the region to exercise caution when accepting investments from China.
"We had the chance to talk to some local media and remind the entire region that when China comes calling, it's not always to the good of your citizens," he told reporters in Mexico City Thursday.
"When they show up with deals that seem to be too good to be true it's often the case that they, in fact, are," Pompeo said.
Asked about Chinese projects of concern to the U.S. in Panama, the secretary noted, broadly, that the U.S. welcomes legitimate investments from Chinese businesses. But he added, "It's when the state-owned enterprises show up in a way that is clearly not transparent, clearly not market-driven, and is designed not to benefit the people of Panama but rather to benefit the Chinese government."
Formal relations were established between China and Panama in June 2017, after the Central American country cut off its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
The two countries have been in the process of negotiating a free-trade agreement since July of this year.