China and Brazil redirect their relationship | international

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With a handshake, the vice president of Brazil, General Hamilton Mourao and Chinese president Xi Jinping redirected relations between the two countries towards normality. A normality that both countries need, despite the incendiary comments of President Jair Bolsonaro in the last electoral campaign. Brazil, because China is your most important trading partner. China, because in its new cold war with the United States, which has more and more open fronts, it needs to surround itself with good allies.

At a reception in the impressive Beijing People's Palace, which the Chinese government reserves for important rallies, Xi told Mourao that "the two sides should continue to see each other as partners and opportunities for their own development. They must respect, support themselves to each other, to have mutual trust and to build China-Brazil relations as a model of solidarity and cooperation between developing countries ".

China wanted to throw the house out of the window to receive Mourao, a man seen in this country as the bridge between the hard wing of the Bolsonaro government and businessmen, eager to expand ties with Beijing ; a representative of moderation against the populism of the Brazilian president.

The protocol did not force Xi to receive a vice president. But the Chinese head of state wanted to make this gesture of rapprochement in a similar visit, in the diplomatic field, to the return of the prodigal son, after relations were at their worst in four decades after the election of Bolsonaro in October. In addition to Xi, Mourao also met with Vice President Wang Qishan and leading Chinese leaders during a six-day tour of Asian power.

Wednesday, in a speech to businessmen from both countries at a hotel in Beijing, Mourao said Brasilia considers relations with China "strategic" and gives them priority. After his visit – he underlined – the links enter "in an even more promising position".

In the last decade, China has become the main Brazilian trading partner, with a trade volume of 98.9 billion dollars last year. In the last fifteen years, China has invested about 70,000 million dollars in Brazil, according to data from the Ministry of Economy in Brasilia. Most have been directed to the energy and infrastructure sectors. But, faced with the uncertainty unleashed by the comments of the then presidential candidate Bolsonaro on "China is buying Brazil", Chinese direct investments have fallen from 11.3 billion dollars in 2017 to 2.8 billion in 2018.

During his speech in Beijing, Mourao said that, in addition to the traditional fields -soja, oil-, Brazil will try to direct Chinese investments towards "sectors of interest", such as innovation, science and technology.

He did not want to enter – those decisions will correspond to Bolsonaro, who intends to go to Beijing in August and welcome Xi during the Chinese president's visit in November to attend the BRICS summit – in the most delicate issues of the bilateral relationship. On the one hand, if Brazil chooses to give in to the desires of the United States and take steps to limit the role of the Chinese technology giant Huawei in the 5G networks of the Latin American country.

And from the other hand, if Brazil wants to formally adhere, through a memorandum of understanding, to the Chinese initiative New Silk Road, the infrastructure network with which Beijing wants to connect with the rest of the world. So far, Brasilia has resisted by taking a step that other Latin American leaders have taken. Its formal integration would represent a huge gesture towards Beijing.

At the moment, Brazil has already begun to send friendly signals to the Asian giant. This week, the government of Brasilia announced that it will withdraw its complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Chinese trade policies on sugar. He also expressed his support for the Chinese candidate to direct the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu.

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