Brazilian VP in China to beg for forgiveness: Latin America is already on the ‘New Silk Road’

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BEIJING – Considered a moderate part of the Brazilian right-wing government, Vice President Hamilton Mourão is in China with the goal of attracting investments and improving Brazil’s relations with its main economic partner as relations were shaken by a more polemical stance of President Bolsonaro. But will Mourão be able to calm the mood and bring investments to the country?

After public disagreements with one of Jair Bolsonaro’s sons and having become targets of Bolsonist militancy, who claims hes attempting a coup, Hamilton Mourão visits China to chair a plenary session of the Sino-Brazilian High-Level Commission for Coordination and Cooperation ( COSBAN), taking the opportunity to deliver a letter from the Brazilian head of state to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

The focus of the trip, four months after a trip by a group of deputies from the president’s party to the Asian country, has been reported as granting the Chinese infrastructure projects in areas such as highways, railways and ports, at a time in which the Chinese economy is plunged into a trade war with the United States.

For Túlio Cariello, Professor of International Relations and Coordinator of Analysis of the Brazil-China Business Council, Mourão’s visit to China is very positive, especially considering the reactivation of COSBAN. According to him, the moment is an opportunity to discuss issues that are “locked in bilateral relations”, such as access to certain Chinese markets and possible misunderstandings generated at the time of the last Brazilian elections, when then-candidate Bolsonaro adopted strong rhetoric against Beijing.

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“The Chinese investment in Brazil has now reached about $60 billion in terms of trade, which is undoubtedly the great center of attractiveness of Chinese investments in the region of Latin America,” said the specialist, stressing that he believes in maintaining this trend of interest, despite a significant drop recorded last year.

In a recent interview with UOL, China’s ambassador to Brasilia, Yang Wanming, said that Brazil “has all the conditions to be a relevant participant in the extension of the ‘New Silk Road’ to the continent, since Sino-Brazilian cooperation have a solid foundation and enormous potential. The matter should be treated more carefully during this visit to Mourão, which lasts until Friday.

According to Cariello, although this project was more focused initially on Eurasia and Africa, it is already expanding to other regions, albeit unofficially.

“We see that Chinese investments in Latin America are broadly in line with what this ‘New Silk Road’ project is about, so I think that, after all, the official entrance, let’s say, Latin American countries in this project ends up being much more a rhetorical thing, because in practice this is already happening in one way or another.”

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