As Jair Bolsonaro campaigned for Brazil’s presidency, he was critical of what he called the country’s increasing economic dependence on China. Since his victory, he’s taken a more pragmatic stance. China’s Consul General in Rio de Janeiro, Li Yang, spoke to CGTN about the future of Brazil-China relations under the new government.
Despite one of the new president’s notable quotes during the campaign that China was not “buying in Brazil”, but was, “buying Brazil,” Li said relations between the two countries are likely to advance.
“Personally, I don’t believe there would be a radical change from the new federal government towards China. I don’t believe so. So, either economic or political ties between the two parts, both Brazil and China, will be further tightened. We firmly believe so.”
One of the main reasons is because China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and Brazil is China’s top partner in Latin America.
“During the past years, Chinese big companies, both state-owned and private companies, the money poured into this big market Brazil. And the money focuses on several fields such as petrol and gas production, solar energy and also the agricultural sector. The total number is $51 to $55 billion”, he added.
Although Bolsonaro has voiced his intention to align more closely with the United States than with China, Li Yang said that will not affect ties between Brazil and China.
“There’s no choice, no choice politically, economically and geographically, Brazil has no choice but to keep very close to the United States. Anyway, at the same time, talking about China, I don’t believe while keeping close or closer to the United States, Brazil can keep away from China. One word: very simple, as said by President Xi Jinping, we will still be there.”
Li also said relations between all nations would be better served by an end to the trade war between the United States and China.
“We have seen some negative effects produced by this kind of war and that is the reason why anybody in the world, including Brazil and China, are trying our best to avoid, to stop this war.”
In 2009, China surpassed the United States as Brazil’s largest trading partner, but Li said economic ties are not enough.
“Money is important but it’s not the most important. Most important is friendship, the mutual understanding among our people which is more important because this could boost a long-term friendship and cooperation.”
Brazil-China relations under Bolsonaro
CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Susan Chusyd, an attorney specializing in Brazil matters, about the state of China-Brazil relations.