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Cablegate: Costa Rica Names Ambassador to China

VZCZCXYZ0019
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #1488 2212258
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 092258Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8655
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0135
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI PRIORITY 0077
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001488

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN AND EAP/CM, SOUTHCOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR XK CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA NAMES AMBASSADOR TO CHINA

REF: SAN JOSE 01322 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Arias administration has wasted no
time in naming its new Ambassador to China, Antonio BURGUES
Teran. Burgues, an economist by training, Arias confidant,
former PLN party treasurer and ex-GOCR minister, was sworn
in on August 1. He hopes to have a five-officer team join
him at the new Costa Rican embassy in Beijing in
September. In public comments, Burgues has echoed the
Arias administration,s optimism that Costa Rican niche
products will find a significant market in China. See
biographic information in para 5. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) China continues to be a 'flavor of the month' in
Costa Rican foreign relations. Burgues, name surfaced in
the media in mid-July, but he reportedly had been selected
by President Oscar Arias in late June, just weeks after
Costa Rica,s recognition of China. Burgues, a first-time
diplomat, told interviewers that he does not seek a large
embassy, just an 'effective' one. Among his top goals:
opening commercial relations, promoting tourism and seeking
Chinese support for Costa Rican global (and UN) policy
initiatives. The Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX),
meanwhile, has fed a steady stream of media reports touting
the enormous size of the Chinese market, the hoped-for
appetite for Costa Rican products, and the (positive)
implications of Chinese relations on eventual APEC
membership for Costa Rica. Some commentators have even
implied (erroneously) that improved trade ties with China
might help compensate for Costa Rica,s not joining CAFTA,
if that proves to be the case after the October 7
referendum.

3. (SBU) For his part, Chinese Ambassador Wang Xiaoyuan
has carefully played down prospects for Costa Rica,s
immediate entry into APEC, citing the long-standing and
complex moratorium issue. At the same time, he and VP
Kevin Casas will be the major attractions at an August 7
conference in San Jose, organized by the national chamber
of business chambers (UCCAEP) on doing business with China.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: If relations with China were
inevitable for Costa Rica, some parts of the GOCR and some
sectors of the public are still adjusting to the suddenness
of the shift in ties from Taipei to Beijing. The Air
Unit of the Ministry of Public Security, for example, has
had to scramble to find funding to complete refurbishment
of an aging C-7 Caribou transport it hopes to put back in
service. The Taiwanese had been helping with the funding.
Also, in the most recent CID-Gallup poll (released July
27),the
second-most cited criticism of the Arias administration, by
those who mentioned something specific, was the break with
Taiwan. The GOCR,s push for CAFTA approval was the
most-cited criticism. (Neither was cited by a large
percentage of those polled, however.) END COMMENT.

5. (U) BIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION ON ANTONIO BURGUES:

Born: June 11, 1953 in Spain. He is a naturalized Costa
Rican citizen.

Background:
-- Economist by training
-- VP of BCT Bank, 2007
-- President of CADEXCO, the Costa Rican Chamber of
Exporters, 1994-2006
-- Minister of Economy, Industry and Trade, 1986-1990
(during 1st Arias administration)
-- Former PLN Party Treasurer

Personal: He is married (Loma Chavarria), with seven
children. He speaks English and Spanish.
HENIFIN

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