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Cablegate: Costa Rica: New Chinese Ambassador Comes Calling

VZCZCXYZ1057
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #1322/01 1921709
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111709Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8473
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0133
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 0452
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0443
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0075
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0751

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001322

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, EAP/CM AND IO/UNP, SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR XK CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: NEW CHINESE AMBASSADOR COMES CALLING

REF: A. SAN JOSE 1106 (ALL NOTAL)
B. SAN JOSE 1173
C. SAN JOSE 1254

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: New Chinese Ambassador-designate Wang
Xiaoyuan has wasted little time in making the rounds in San
Jose. Arriving in Costa Rica on June 13, he presented a copy
of his credentials to FM Stagno on June 18 (although he has
not yet presented his credentials to President Arias). In a
courtesy call on the Ambassador on June 27, Wang downplayed
the (fading) controversy stirred by the GOCR,s recognition
of China. He said that trade would be high on the bilateral
agenda, but not right away. Once his embassy was up and
running, Wang expected consular services (for what he
estimated were 50,000 Chinese in Costa Rica) would take up a
good portion of his mission,s time. On global issues, Wang
confirmed that the PRC favored Costa Rica,s election to a
non-permanent seat on the UNSC and
eventual APEC membership, but neither issue was solely up to
China. While Wang is diplomatically cautious concerning
prospects for China-Costa Rica trade, GOCR officials are
quite optimistic, pointing to trade and investment fairs in
both countries this fall and President Arias,s planned visit
to China in October. Although familiar to some addressees,
Wang,s bio is repeated in para 7 below for reference. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Wang downplayed the public and political
controversy stirred by the GOCR,s announcement that it would
recognize China (Ref A). He said the recognition initiative
was not new; there had been on again-off again Chinese-Costa
Rican dialogue for 15 years. Citing a proverb, he quipped
that the PRC and the GOCR had reached agreement "when the
melon was ripe." Wang nonetheless noted the importance to
Beijing of recognition. Costa Rica was now the first Central
American country to have diplomatic relations with China.
The nearest others in the hemisphere, he added, were Mexico
and Colombia.

3. (SBU) Trade would be high on the bilateral agenda,
according to Wang, but not right away. He was immediately
preoccupied with finding a suitable building to house his new
embassy and consulate. He anticipated that the (by his
count) 50,000-member Chinese community in Costa Rica would
place a high demand on consular services. (NOTE: GOCR
immigration authorities estimate the Chinese community at
only 10,000, Ref B.) Wang said that most of the Chinese
colony worked in restaurants and small businesses. His
embassy would at first be staffed by personnel rotating from
Mexico City. Eventually, Wang envisoned a staff of seven,
not counting local hires. According to local media reports
on July 5, Wang had settled on a house in the Rohrmoser area
of San Jose for the new chancery, not far from President
Arias,s home. As for his own residence, Wang was still
looking, while temporary lodged in a local Ramada Inn.

4. (SBU) On global issues, Wang said the PRC "looked
favorably" on Costa Rica,s election to the UNSC and eventual
entry into APEC, but neither issue was solely up to China
(Ref C). In his first local interview, on June 24, Wang
publicly confirmed China,s support for Costa Rica in both
the UNSC and APEC, but expected this support to be
reciprocated when Chinese candidates sought election in
international organizations.

5. (U) Wang may be diplomatically cautious in private about
prospects for China-Costa Rica trade, but GOCR officials are
quite optimistic in public. News stories on July 10, quoting
Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz and the head of the
PROCOMER trade promotion organization, Martin Zuniga,
described a busy year ahead. Ruiz said there would be "an
agenda of exchanges" including a visit by a PRC vice-minister
in conjunction with a trade fair in August, Costa Rica
participation in an investment fair in Shanghai in September,
President Arias,s visit to China in October, and a
China-Latin America "business summit" in conjunction with the
Ibero-American summit in Santiago in November. According to
Ruiz and Zuniga, Costa Rican exporters hoped to target the
so-called "new emperors" in China, the affluent, young
globalized entrepreneurs and professionals who would be
interested in value-added niche products such as processed
food, bottled beverages, palm oil derivatives, ornamental
plants and gourmet coffee.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: As the Chinese-Costa Rican honeymoon
begins, we wonder about expectation management. The PRC
obviously places greater political import on recognition by
Costa Rica. The Ticos (if their hype is believed) have very
high economic hopes. This relationship may face a little
turbulence as it unfolds. The self-effacing,
Spanish-speaking, experienced Wang, however, seems an
excellent choice to open relations, however. Diplomatic
colleagues from other embassies, impressed by his language
skills and his full schedule of courtesy calls, were waving
his calling card around as though Wang were a celebrity.
END COMMENT.

7. (U) WANG XIAOYUAN CURRICULM VITAE (as provided to us by
Wang):

Born: December 1954 in Henan Province. University graduate
(NFI).

1975-78 Chinese Embassy, Mexico City

1978-80 Translation department, MFA, Beijing
1980-86 Third Secretary, Americas and Oceana
Directorate, MFA, Beijing

1986-88 Second Secretary, Chinese Embassy, Havana

1989-93 Second Secretary, then First Secretary and
sub-director, Latin America and Caribbean Directorate, MFA,
Beijing

1993-96 First Secretary, Chinese Embassy. Madrid

1996-97 First Secretary and Director, Latin America
and Caribbean Directorate, MFA, Beijing
1997-98 Vice Magistrate, Xushui District, Hebei
Province
1998-2000 Counselor, Latin America and Caribbean
Directorate, MFA, Beijing

2000-2006 Consul General, Rio de Janiero

2006-2007 Ambassador to Uruguay

2007- Ambassador to Costa Rica

Wang is married, with one university-age daughter who is
studying in Europe.

HENIFIN

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