(AFP) – May 6, 2008
SAN JOSE (AFP) — Costa Rica and China inked deals worth 50 million dollars Tuesday during a three-day visit here by Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu aimed at broadening relations with San Jose.
Hui is the highest-level Chinese official ever to visit the Latin American country and was due to meet with President Oscar Arias as well as Vice President Laura Chinchilla and other top leaders.
The accords include a 40-million-dollar line of credit by China for small and medium size projects in Costa Rica, following an agreement between the National Bank of Costa Rica and the China Development Bank, as well as Beijing's donation of 10 million dollars and 200 vehicles for Costa Rican civil security.
Hui secured the deals with various Costa Rican ministers including Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno and Environment Minister Roberto Dobles.
Economic and agricultural cooperation tops the agenda during Hui's visit, along with water resources, judicial cooperation and visa issues, and he was due to sign cooperation accords broadening the bilateral relationship.
The two sides "will also share opinions on other common interests including China-Latin America relations, United Nations reform, the environment and climate change, the (UN) Security Council, as well as the situations in Taiwan and Tibet," Costa Rica's foreign ministry said in a statement.
China has also promised to finance the construction of a new 60-million-dollar stadium in Costa Rica after the country switched allegiance to Beijing in June 2007, ending 63 years of relations with Taiwan.
The 35,000-capacity stadium will replace the National Stadium, which will be demolished.
Taiwan has seen its number of allies dwindle over the years as competition for supporters with rival China heats up. The two have been accused of using so-called "dollar diplomacy" to get nations to ally with them.
Arias, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1987, came out against calls for a boycott of this year's Beijing Olympics prompted by human rights concerns.
Hui and Arias were also to discuss the possibility of an eventual visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Costa Rica, a country which Beijing could see as a platform from which to broaden ties with the rest of Central America.
Of the 24 nations that maintain official ties with Taiwan, half of them are in the Americas.
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