China part of the so­lu­tions not part of Brazil’s prob­lems

China Daily (USA) - - COMMENT -

In his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress on Tues­day, Brazil’s new Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro elab­o­rated on do­mes­tic prob­lems as he vowed to res­cue South Amer­ica’s largest and most pop­u­lous coun­try from “cor­rup­tion, crim­i­nal­ity and ide­o­log­i­cal sub­mis­sion” dur­ing his term. “We will re-es­tab­lish or­der,” he de­clared. Brazil suf­fers from in­fa­mously high homi­cide rate — more than 63,000 peo­ple were killed last year — is en­dur­ing a slow re­cov­ery from a pro­longed re­ces­sion, and has an in­creas­ingly po­lar­ized so­ci­ety be­tween the left and the right. Bol­sonaro faces mount­ing chal­lenges if he wants to de­liver on his cam­paign prom­ise to bring big changes to the world’s eighth-largest econ­omy.

That’s why many an­a­lysts pre­dict that the out­spo­ken leader, who will have to act ra­tio­nally and prag­mat­i­cally once in of­fice, may have to backpedal on some is­sues de­spite his in­flam­ma­tory rhetoric on the cam­paign trail.

Which may bring re­lief to those who worry about fu­ture China-Brazil re­la­tions now with Bol­sonaro at the helm. That’s be­cause the hard­line views on China he ex­pressed dur­ing his cam­paign made head­lines, es­pe­cially his claim that “China isn’t buy­ing in Brazil, it’s buy­ing Brazil”.

Whether that was a to­tal mis­con­cep­tion at the time or just a ruse to win votes by whip­ping up na­tion­al­ism, it has been en­cour­ag­ing that Bol­sonaro has since re­strained him­self from mak­ing such ex­treme re­marks, and he seems to have come to terms with the fact that the smooth de­vel­op­ment of China-Brazil re­la­tions ben­e­fits both coun­tries. He later de­scribed China as an “ex­cep­tional part­ner of Brazil”.

As Brazil’s largest trade part­ner, China has been the No 1 des­ti­na­tion for Brazil­ian ex­ports such as soy­bean and iron ore. Chi­nese in­vest­ment has driven growth in Brazil’s en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture sec­tors, and China has be­come a new source of Brazil’s much needed fi­nanc­ing, es­pe­cially since the down­turn in 2012, when World Bank lend­ing to the re­gion halved. That’s why China has been called “the coun­ter­cycli­cal lender and the sta­bi­lizer”.

The Sino-Brazil­ian strate­gic part­ner­ship, which has deep­ened dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent years, should be re­silient enough to with­stand any po­lit­i­cal sce­nar­ios be­cause it has been based on win-win co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual ben­e­fits, rather than one coun­try tak­ing ad­van­tage of the other.

Both mem­bers of the BRICS group­ing of the world’s most im­por­tant emerg­ing economies, China and Brazil can avail them­selves of lim­it­less growth op­por­tu­ni­ties if they can work to­gether as their economies are highly com­ple­men­tary.

China has never been the source of prob­lems that Brazil faces to­day, but rather it stands ready to help pro­vide so­lu­tions to those prob­lems.

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