Beijing plays down visit to ex-Taipei ally

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 November, 2008, 12:00am

Mainland government think-tanks yesterday tried to play down President Hu Jintao's historic visit to former Taiwanese ally Costa Rica and said it was not targeting Taiwan.

Costa Rica established diplomatic ties with Beijing a year ago, and is the first Central American country to switch from Taiwan to the mainland.

Arriving in the capital, San Jose, Mr Hu said Costa Rica was an important partner for the mainland.

Bilateral trade reached US$2.87 billion last year, and during Mr Hu's visit the two countries are due to sign contracts covering finance, trade, energy, education, technology and quality control issues.

Of the 23 countries that still have official ties with Taiwan, 11 are in Central America. But with a change of administrations in Taiwan, cross-strait relations have warmed and both sides seem to have reached a consensus on a diplomatic truce.

Analysts told the China News Service that Mr Hu's trip was not aimed at swaying other countries away from Taiwan because raising animosity was not the wish of people either side.

However, strengthening ties between the mainland and Costa Rica might set an example for the region.

'It can be foreseen that in the future the number of countries holding diplomatic ties with Taiwan will further decline, but this will not be the result of the mainland's tactics,' said analyst Guo Zhenyuan . 'It will be the manifestation of pragmatic diplomacy.'

Mr Hu will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Peru this weekend.