Brazil’s Vice President heads to China to reaffirm commitments

World Today

Brazil’s Vice President travels to Beijing this weekend. It will be the first of three high-level visits between the two countries. China is Brazil’s largest trading partner, but new President Jair Bolsonaro pulled closer to Washington, during the U.S.-China trade war. CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has never hidden his admiration for the United States and distrust toward China, but his Vice-President, former General Hamilton Mourao, has always been more balanced regarding the country’s foreign relations.

In fact, Mourao will be the man visiting China ahead of his boss who is set to go in August. Mourao will restart the China-Brazil High-Level Commission, which was suspended after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in 2016.

“The trip of General Mourao to China is very important, much more than a usual mission of a Vice President,” said Mauricio Santoro, a Political Analyst at Rio de Janeiro State University. “It shows our political commitment to the relationship with China.”

In an exclusive interview with CGTN before he took office, Mourao talked about the importance of the China-Brazil partnership.

“China is a major player in the world today, and we sell a lot of goods, lots of stuff, mainly our agricultural products to China,” Mourao said. “And China has money to invest, so the same way that we have to be a global player with the U.S., we have to be with China, and we have to find ways with mutual benefits for both countries.”

According to Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, the country’s exports to China totaled more than $66 billion last year. That represents about 28 percent of Brazil’s total exports, up 32% compared to 2017.

However, some experts say the surge has been driven mainly by commodities such as soybeans, crude oil and iron.

The vice president’s trip to China is critical to push for much-needed investments.

“We also have a program of investment from China,” said Lia Valls, an Economist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. “We have the fund, the Brazil-China Fund, that is financed by the Chinese with $15 billion for infrastructure projects. And for Brazil, infrastructure is terribly important because we have a bottleneck in this area, and the only country in some sense that we have this joint-venture in infrastructure with is China.”