COSTA RICA NEWS – This country should go back to square one in its project with China, according to lawmaker Otton Solis, because the model used by the Chinchilla Administration is “sick” and damaging to Costa Rican interests.
The two projects in question are the widening of the highway to Limon and the modernization of the nation’s RECOPE oil refinery. China drives a hard bargain with its “aid” in projects, specifying that only Chinese companies do them – – and especially the company earmarked to do the road is suspect, says Solis.
Solis is one of the most powerful legislators in the country, a founder of President Luis Guillermo Solis’s Citizen Action Party (PAC) and wary of international agreements. He wants negotiations with China on the refinery improvement to come to a complete halt.
And the company that China designated to widen the highway is completely unacceptable to the lawmaker. Shortly before the term of President Laura Chinchilla ended, it was revealed that the firm had done jobs in other nations and had been penalized for environmental damages and shoddy work.
Asked by a La Nacion interview what he wanted, Solis said flatlly, “To halt …the process of the refinery at Moin completely and to stop the (financing) process on the road and tell China that we’re not going that route.”
He said that “the previous party (Chinchilla’s National Liberation) had deals on the table with China but we (PAC) have no deals either on the table or under it.” He added that both projects can be understood “on the level of infinite foolishness or infinite corruption — nothing more.”
“China has zero possibilities of blackmailing this Administration,” said Solis grimly.He said he feels that this country has a good chance of changing its commercial relations with China because “China is desperate to to protect its relations with this country.”
He says that Costa Rica is a key nation for China because it has an entrée to a lot of nations that still have relations with Taiwan.” This is one of the reasons he feels that this country can take a harder line with China in negotiating loans and other projects.
He said China would end up dictating to Costa Rica if relations had continued as they were. But he said he feels that the new President broke the old modus operandi the week he took office. He feels that Chinese President Xi Ginping runs a corrupt government and that the letter of contract laws should be applied.
The lawmaker made it clear that he does not want to cut relations with mainland China but that diplomatic ties should be re-examined. For example, he is opposed to caving to China’s insistence that only a Chinese company be used and believes that the bidding should be opened to all comers.
He said a good example of a good deal is that offered by Japan for financing geothermal electrical generation, “$600 million…at 0.6% interest with a 10-year grace period and a 40 year term.” He did not go so far as to suggest replacing Costa Rica’s ambassador to China but did say he wants August talks with the Chinese ambassador.
Comment: Many will agree that the relations between the Chinchilla Administration and China have been uncomfortably cozy. However, it must be remembered that Solis fought for months against the CAFTA trade treaty from 2006-10 with the United States out of fear that this country would become a puppet of the U.S.
This did not happen and neither disasters nor a treasure house of benefits predicted by either Solis or the supporters of CAFTA resulted from the free trade pact.