Expanded Panama Canal inaugurated
AGUA CLARA, PanamaA giant Chinese-chartered freighter nudged its way into the expanded Panama Canal June 26 to mark the completion of nearly a decade of work forecast to boost global trade.
Thousands of people cheered and waved flags as they watched the vessel, especially renamed COSCO Shipping Panama, inaugurate the widening of the century-old waterway, which has been fitted with a new shipping lane and locks.
“This is a great day, a day of national unity and a day for Panama,” President Juan Carlos Varela said in a speech.
“This is the route that unites the world,” he said.
The Chinese ship entered from the Atlantic and was to take hours to make its way to the Pacific side of the country, where a ceremony attended by several heads of state and foreign dignitaries was to take place.
The United States - builder of the original canal, which opened in 1914 and is still in operation alongside the additions - was being represented by the wife of U.S. Vice President Jose Biden, Jill Biden, and the U.S. ambassador to Panama.
The United States and China are the two most frequent canal users.