San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Chinese Ambassador Takes On Free Trade Issue

A new ambassador to Costa Rica takes the helm at the Chinese Embassy this month at a pivotal time in the two countries’ bilateral relations.

Given that the Chinese are halfway through construction of the donated $83 million national stadium at La Sabana Park at the western end of San José, and Tico legislators are debating the merits of a free trade agreement with the Asian giant, the newly arrived diplomat, Li Changhua, will play a crucial role in seeing those projects to fruition.

Changhua has worked for China’s foreign service in Latin America for nearly 30 years. Most recently, he served as ambassador to Colombia.

Changhua replaces Ambassador Wang Xiaoyuan, China’s first ambassador to Costa Rica. Xiaoyan helped to propel China into its current position as one of Costa Rica’s most important diplomatic partners. In addition to the role he played in the donation of the stadium, several rounds of trade negotiations and efforts toward the expansion of Costa Rica’s oil refinery, Xiaoyan laid the first brick in the development of a planned Chinatown in downtown San José.

“Relations between the two countries have been developing quickly and consistently and the common points of interest have increased every day,” Xiaoyuan said midway in his tenure as ambassador to Costa Rica. “We are applying all our efforts to promote friendship between China and Costa Rica and to foster mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.”

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said he hopes to conclude free trade talks with China before he leaves office in May. However, any agreement must be approved by the Legislative Assembly. Changhua inherits the free trade talks as one of his primary responsibilities as ambassador.

–Chrissie Long

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