Media Report
Lifting China-Brazil strategic cooperation to the next level
Developing the Sino-Brazilian relationship based on mutual benefit
By Li Wenhan  ·  2022-12-12  ·   Source: NO.50 DECEMBER 15, 2022
Panelists at the China-Brazil Forum for Exchange and Mutual Learning cohosted by the China International Communications Group Center for the Americas and Brazil's Fundação Getúlio Vargas Law School on November 30 (CICG AMERICAS)

On October 30, Brazilian Workers' Party candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidential runoff and once again was elected president of Brazil—he previously served as head of state from 2003 to 2010.

In his congratulatory message to Lula on October 31, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he stands ready to work with the president-elect, from a strategic height and long-term perspective, to jointly plan and lift the China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level to benefit both countries and their people.

China and Brazil officially established diplomatic ties in 1974 and their bilateral cooperation in the following decades has yielded fruitful results. The Sixth Meeting of the China-Brazil High-Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee in May was a success, drafting a blueprint for future teamwork.

As the bilateral relationship is poised to usher in a new chapter, the China International Communications Group (CICG) Center for the Americas and Brazil's Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) Law School cohosted the China-Brazil Forum for Exchange and Mutual Learning on November 30. The event intended to strengthen the dialogue and communication between both countries in the political, academic plus media fields, explore measures to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and provide intellectual support for pushing the China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership to the next level.

"Facing a complicated, volatile international situation and tough global challenges, mankind needs openness, inclusiveness, and common development now more than ever," CICG President Du Zhanyuan told the forum, which took place both online and offline, in his opening address.

China and Brazil are both at a critical stage of development and encounter many common challenges in terms of national governance. As a result, strengthening the exchange of governance experience particularly matters to both sides, Du added.

Shared responsibility

Brazilian Ambassador to China Marcos Bezerra Abbott Galvão in his speech commended Chinese and Brazilian efforts to improve the international environment for development through their participation in major international platforms such as the Group of 20 and the consolidation of BRICS cooperation. BRICS is an acronym for five leading emerging economies, namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

"China knows it can trust Brazil and vice versa. Our bilateral relations have been marked by stability and continued progress and will never go backward," he said.

Brazil has played an active and important role as a mediator in several international disputes, Chai Yu, Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.

Brazil emphasizes how all parties involved should respect each other's differences, expand common interests and take a long-term view. These concepts are all reflected in China's vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity, Chai added.

With their combined global influence, both countries can jointly manage issues facing humanity, Marcos Uchôa, a former international correspondent for Brazilian free-to-air television network TV Globo, said.

Especially at a time when the world is facing headwinds from setbacks in climate change and flareups of regional conflicts, there is room for a bigger Brazilian presence in China's actions on sustainability and decarbonization, according to former Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Aloysio Nunes.

Since COVID-19 erupted, the two countries have stood together against the pandemic through thick and thin. "Almost all residents of the town of Serrana in southeast Brazil have received Chinese vaccines, making it a shining example of both China-Brazil anti-pandemic cooperation as well as our profound friendship," Qiu Xiaoqi, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Latin American Affairs, said.

Their shared interests, coupled with the broader picture of global development, make it imperative for the two partners to continue exploring the untapped potential for joint action, open up new frontiers and make their mutually beneficial ties a role model for South-South cooperation, Yu Hongjun, former Vice Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and a senior researcher with the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies affiliated with CICG, said.

"This productive relationship is poised to meet both nations' aspirations, drive South-South as well as cross-regional cooperation, and inject impetus to a new round of economic globalization," Yu added.

Economic engagement

Solid momentum in bilateral cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure and aerospace has continued, Qiu said.

Sino-Brazilian trade has flourished in recent years, even during the pandemic. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Economic Affairs, bilateral trade hit an all-time high of $135 billion in 2021. Brazil's exports to China reached $87.9 billion during that period, a year-on-year increase of 29 percent and accounting for 32.1 percent of its total exports; imports amounted to $47.6 billion, up 36.2 percent and accounting for 21.5 percent of the total imports. Volume of goods traded between both countries had increased by 130 percent since 2016. China remained Brazil's largest trading partner, ahead of the United States.

Evandro Menezes de Carvalho, Chief Executive Editor of China Hoje, the Portuguese edition of the CICG Americas' monthly magazine China Today, as well as a professor at and head of the Brazil-China Center at FGV Law School, emphasized China's trade with Latin America is predicted to reach $700 billion by 2035.

"There is still room for cooperation in new infrastructure projects such as those related to artificial intelligence, cloud computing, smart cities and 5G technology," he added.

The fortunes of Chinese manufacturer BYD Co. Ltd. in Brazil illustrate these latest trends. The industry leader in electronics, automobiles, renewable energy and rail transit, based in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, was seeking global expansion and in that process spotted Brazil as a pivotal market. It went on to build three factories in four years there to produce electric bus chassis and batteries, as well as photovoltaic panels.

"As major developing countries with the greatest economic dynamism and potential for growth, our relations are based on commerce, aiming to realize our common interests," Nunes said.

The next frontier

In his speech, Du put forward four proposals for the future development of China-Brazil relations: First, promoting the exchange of governance concepts and the sharing of experiences; second, deepening cooperation with mutual benefits and boosting common development and prosperity; third, safeguarding multilateralism and jointly confronting global challenges; and fourth, intensifying dialogues between the two civilizations and strengthening people-to-people ties.

Menezes de Carvalho also expressed his hopes that the future Brazilian Government will encourage more companies and research centers to join efforts to promote bilateral ties and strengthen mutual dialogue.

Rodrigo Vianna, head of international relations at FGV Law School, said academic exchanges between the two countries are crucial. He hopes to team up with his Chinese counterparts to carry out thematic research on security, science and technology, as well as the Belt and Road Initiative, a China-proposed blueprint to enhance transcontinental connectivity.

"The FGV has been the world's third largest think tank in the last 10 years, with more than 90 research centers dedicated to different topics that may impact our reality, especially at the international level. Our exchanges with China matter greatly," he exemplified.

As they eye a closer strategic partnership, China and Brazil must continue to enhance mutual political trust. Without political trust, results-oriented cooperation is unlikely, whereas the latter can contribute to the former, Yu said.

"China and Brazil are in different hemispheres. They have different historical traditions, cultural backgrounds, social systems, development paths, state governance systems and social models. These differences, however, should not hinder their exchange and dialogue or hold back progress in collaborative programs," Yu concluded. 

(Print Edition Title: A Growing Friendship)

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

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