San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Press Shines Light On Secret China Deal

Costa Ricans learned this year about the secret deal that enticed President Oscar Arias to forge ties with China alter breaking a nearly 60-year relationship with Taiwan.

Responding to an order from the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), the Arias administration released a June 2007 memo in which China promised to donate $130 million in aid and buy $300 million in state bonds in exchange for diplomatic recognition. China bought half of the promised bonds in January, according to Finance Minister Guillermo Zúñiga.

For months, the press and opposition politicians had criticized the Arias administration for keeping the bond sale secret. The Sala IV ruling came in response to a legal challenge by La Nación after the administration refused to reveal the details of the transaction.

Zúñiga said the public should focus on the merits of the deal, rather than the secrecy.

The bonds, to be repaid over 12 years at 2 percent interest, will save Costa Rica about $90.9 million, Zúñiga said.

China is also planning to build an $83 million stadium in La Sabana Park on the western edge of San José and erect a Confucius Institute at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) to promote Chinese language and culture.


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