Ties with China benefit Costa Ricans: ex-president

Updated: 2013-06-01 21:26


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SAN JOSE - Relations between Costa Rica and China have brought concrete benefits to Costa Ricans, so the Central American country's ties with the Asian nation are important, says former President Oscar Arias Sanchez.

"Friendship and understanding have been consolidated" since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 2007, said Arias, who then was serving his second presidential term.

Arias, also the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner, spoke with Xinhua ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Jose.

Costa Rica is a small country with only 4.5 million citizens, but its trade with China has intensified, especially since the two sides signed a free trade agreement in 2010, Arias said.

Costa Ricans, he said, "are the Phoenicians of the 21st century, because we produce what we do not consume and we consume what we do not produce, and we are doomed to trade with the whole world."

"For us, China is the second largest trade partner," added the former president.

He also praised the establishment of a Confucius Institute at the University of Costa Rica during his presidency.

The institute has fostered exchanges between the two countries, he said, adding that he expects increasing scholarships in the future to provide more opportunities for Costa Rican students.

China has excellent scientific institutions, and "here ... we need more technicians, more engineers, more computer science experts," he noted.

Costa Rica needs to open up more to China, especially to Chinese tourists, whose growing purchasing power will benefit the Costa Rican people, Arias said.

Costa Rica carries China "in its heart and mind" and Costa Ricans will never forget the great contributions made by the Chinese people to the Central American country, he said.