Lese-Empfehlung: Brazil and China – Partnership or Competition?

Lese-Empfehlung: Brazil and China – Partnership or Competition?

The rise of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and formation of the BRICS-Block that began in 2006 was widely perceived as a prophecy for a new polypolar World Order. However, recent developments in the relationship between the largest developing country in the Western hemisphere (Brazil) and the largest developing country in the Eastern hemisphere (China) menace the block’s further cooperation.

Former Brazilian foreign minister, Celso Amorim forecasted that the intensifying relationship between Brazil and China could be part of a ‘reconfiguration of the world’s commercial and diplomatic geography’. But this relationship has recently encountered serious defiance, especially concerning trade relations. New data suggests that after a period of mutual profit, the relationship is becoming more asymmetrical – favoring China. The country’s rising hunger for natural resources and the artificial undervaluation of the Yuan have a stranglehold over Brazil. As Brazil has become more and more dependent in the export of its commodities, its own manufactured goods can no longer compete with cheaper Chinese products in domestic and foreign markets. Recent attempts of Chinese investors to buy increasing amounts of land in Brazil to secure the soy supply for the Chinese market have fueled the Brazilian perception of China as a competitor rather than a partner.

Likewise, Brazil and China are not pulling together on the strategic sphere, “while Brazil has been considered a regional power with global ambitions, China already is a global power with nuclear Weapons“. Furthermore both countries compete to attract foreign direct investment. Although both countries may share the same ambition to gain greater influence in the international arena, their differing regional and political contexts are likely to undermine a solid long-term cooperation.

The Brookings Foreign Policy Paper by Carlos Pereira and João Augusto de Castro Neves entitled “Brazil and China: South-South Partnership or North-South Competition?” illuminates these aspects and is an important contribution for the better understanding of sino-brazilian relations and the friction that exists within the BRICS-Block. It discloses that there might be cracks in the block, whose members are not as similar as they may seem at first sight.

Leo Ghione