Xi's visit to enhance China's ties with Costa Rica

Updated: 2013-06-01 19:10


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SAN JOSE - Relations between Costa Rica and China will be strengthened thanks to the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Latin American country, said Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo.

"For us, the fact that Costa Rica has had the opportunity to twice host the president of the People's Republic of China, shows the importance that China gives to its ties with a small country, which makes us pleased, proud and grateful for the acknowledgement," he told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Xi will travel to Costa Rica from Trinidad and Tobago for a state visit on Sunday, before visiting Mexico and meeting with US President Barack Obama in the United States later next week.

The Chinese president is scheduled to hold talks with his Costa Rican counterpart Laura Chinchilla, visit the Legislative Assembly and meet with a farming family, Castillo said.

With Xi's visit, Costa Rica hopes to make concrete progress towards the building of a joint oil refinery along its Caribbean coast, the extension of a highway between San Jose and eastern city of Limon and the construction of a new headquarter building for the National School of Police, the minister said.

China has been a "generous partner," Castillo said, citing the multiple projects in which the Asian giant has cooperated with Costa Rica. It is also a "business partner" with which Costa Rica has launched numerous mutually beneficial initiatives, he added.

"At the cultural level, we have also been receiving China's support for the teaching of Mandarin through the Confucius Institute, which has been working very well for several years now. At the cultural level, we are also very satisfied," Castillo said.

However, there is still room for growth in some areas, such as attracting more Chinese tourists and tapping the full potential of the free trade agreement between the two countries, he said.

When looking back after six years of diplomatic relations, Castillo said "it has been a very positive association in every way."

"In the first place, because it is a very cordial friendly relationship, of good will, where the two countries have been finding points of common interest," he said.

"For Costa Rica, the cooperation with China has been very rewarding," he said.

Despite the differences in their political systems and occasionally in the way they do things, the good will between China and Costa Rica has allowed them to jointly overcome obstacles that have arisen in their cooperation projects, said Castillo.

With the two countries' bilateral relations developing in a healthy way, China's presence in Costa Rica has awakened the interest of other Central American countries, which have expressed their intention to draw closer to the Asian powerhouse, the minister said.

It could be "comforting" for China to know that it can count on Costa Rica to facilitate its approximation to Latin America, he said.

"The other countries have observed that the relationship with China is positive and something similar is taking place in the rest of the continent," the minister said, adding "several countries in Latin America have very important economic ties with China."