The presidential election in Brazil is underway and there are implications on who takes office in October, one of them being how each candidate will affect the relations between China and Brazil. The relations between the two countries will surely improve if Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is elected in October, according to one of the leftist aides in the Lula administration.
Before his election, current president Jair Bolsonaro had made comments causing tensions with China, saying, “China is not buying in Brazil, it is buying Brazil. Are we going to leave Brazil in the hands of the Chinese?” However, Bolsonaro’s policy toward China had not caused any confrontation between the two powers. China remains the largest investor and trade partner with Brazil, and it appears that president Bolsonaro is taking a more pragmatic approach in foreign policies towards China.
The Lula administration (2003-2010) was instrumental in cultivating a strong bilateral relationship between Brazil and China, largely due to a combination of extraordinary growth in trading and investments between the two powers. Brazil is a steady supplier of raw materials and agricultural produce for China and former President Lula considers China to be “Brazil’s most promising business partner and a strategically” due to China’s rapidly rising demand for such resources.
China has a fast-growing economy and certainly has the potential to have the most powerful economy in the world. Over the last decade, Chinese companies have invested more than $66 billion in projects such as infrastructure and technology all across Brazil. Under current president Bolsonaro, the state of the economy in Brazil has been stagnant and anemic. Its economy had fallen into a recession due to the combination of extreme weather conditions, COVID-19, high-interest rates, and inflation. Lula believes it is in Brazil’s best interests to reinforce its relationship with China to achieve further economic growth.
One of the ways Brazil can do so is by engaging more frequently with the BRICS bloc, which includes partnerships with other countries such as Russia, India, and South Africa to address global affairs of mutual interest. “China is important to us in the scientific, technological, and commodities point of view. China is important in all aspects because China can transform this polarized world where more players can take part in global decisions,” Lula said in an interview with CGTN America. For Lula, Brazil must showcase its importance in the world so that it may take on a greater role in the world system. If Lula is selected for president in the upcoming election, we will likely see a more promising relationship between China and Brazil.
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