The possible election of Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) in next Sunday’s presidential election worries Chinese officials and investors, who accompany the rhetoric critical of the Chinese and their investments in Brazil, Reuters reported.
Major diplomats in Beijing have been in contact with Bolsonaro’s aides in recent weeks, the report said, adding that the focus of these meetings has been to emphasize the benefits of the relationship between the two countries, including the business relationship.
“Regardless of right- or left-wing, we want to talk and advance the smooth development of China-Brazil relations, which we believe benefits both countries,” Qu Yuhui, the Chinese embassy’s minister-counselor in Brasilia, told the agency.
“We have confidence that whoever is Brazil’s president will improve China-Brazil relations,” he added.
Throughout his campaign, Bolsonaro has been stating that “China is not buying in Brazil, China is buying Brazil”. “We are going to do business with the Chinese – but we will not hand over our territory to anyone,” the former Army captain and elected deputy has warned for seven consecutive terms.
China’s investments in Brazil rose 37% between 2010 and 2016, under the government of former President Dilma Rousseff (PT), making Beijing the country’s main trading partner, surpassing even the United States.
Due to its internal expansion, major infrastructure works and the improvement of the quality of life of the population, China sees in Brazil a major supplier of raw materials, such as agricultural goods and minerals.
In addition, Beijing has been seeking to invest in Brazilian companies and infrastructure projects sponsored by the Brazilian government, something that Bolsonaro must oppose, if elected president of Brazil on Sunday, when the presidential second round takes place.
“We are worrying a bit about some of his extreme views,” one Chinese infrastructure executive told Reuters. “He is on guard against China..”
Brazil plays a prominent role in China’s expansionist plans, but Bolsonaro’s appreciation for the isolationist rhetoric of US President Donald Trump – who is in a trade war with Beijing – is another component to note.
Another reason for China to see Bolsonaro with care is politics. In February, the PSL presidential candidate visited Taiwan, which he recognizes as an independent state (something refuted by Beijing), and praised the “engines of prosperity, technology, innovation and education.”
At the time, the Chinese embassy in Brasilia issued a note criticizing Bolsonaro’s visit, calling it an “affront to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.”
What the Chinese government bets on to demolish Bolsonaro are the values involved in the relationship between the two countries. Bilateral trade only in 2017 between the two countries was $75 billion, while Beijing has already added $124 billion in investment since 2003 in the country. Brazilian agribusiness, which has a strong relationship with the candidate who leads the polls, has been winning by the Chinese-American raids, and may also exert some influence if Bolsonaro is elected.
Two Bolsonaro strong men and likely ministers, economist Paulo Guedes and federal deputy Onyx Lorenzoni recently met with Chinese delegations, according to Reuters. The congressman, likely chief minister of the Civil House, pointed out that Bolsonaro will welcome the Chinese right at the beginning of his eventual government, if elected.
In 2019, Bolsonaro may play an important role in the international arena, since Brazil will host the BRICS summit. And the president of China, Xi Jinping, will probably be there.