Brazil–China relations

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Brazil – China relations
Map indicating locations of Brazil and China



Brazil–China relations refers to the current and historical relationship between Brazil and China. Relations between Brazil and China began in the early nineteenth century and continued until 1949, when they were disrupted by the creation of the People's Republic of China. Diplomatic relations between China and Brazil officially began in 1974 with agreement on the establishment and operation of Brazil’s Embassy in Beijing and China’s Embassy in Brasília. Since then, bilateral ties have developed mostly based on non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit (win-win).[1]

The growing economic and political relationship between the two countries was confirmed by Lula’s visit to China, which included 450 Brazilian business representatives. Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim noted that the growing relationship could be part of a ‘reconfiguration of the world’s commercial and diplomatic geography’.[2]


An early joint undertaking involving Brazil and China began in 1812, when Queen Maria I of Portugal, then based in Brazil, imported Chinese laborers to work on a tea plantation near Rio de Janeiro. In 1900, a fresh wave of immigrants from China settled in São Paulo.[3]

In 1879, Admiral Arthur Silveira da Motta, Baron of Jaceguai and soon to be the first Brazilian envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary in Beijing, led a "naval mission" to China to established diplomatic relations, while another mission was sent to London to discuss Chinese immigration with China's diplomats there. Formal relations between the Empire of Brazil and the Qing Dynasty were established in September 1880 with the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation. The Chinese refused, however, to permit Brazilians from hiring Chinese as contract laborers, knowing that non-white laborers were treated "as machines or as cheap labour". The British were also opposed to the importation of Chinese labor to Brazil, believing it would inevitably result in de facto slavery. (Slavery in Brazil was only abolished in 1888.) Late in 1893, José de Costa Azevedo, Baron of Ladario, went to Beijing to negotiate a new treaty on immigration, but the Chinese were uninterested.[4]

Formal relations ended with the Republic of China ended following the Chinese Civil War (1945–49) and were only re-established with the People's Republic of China in 1974.[3] In the 21st century Brazilian businessmen have been somewhat frustrated by what the Financial Times have described as a slow pace of development for some aspects of the relationship. For example, Brazil officially recognised China as a market economy in 2004 but by 2009 the corresponding changes to the trading arrangements had not been implemented. However agreement had been reached on a wide range of issues, and an outstanding personal relationship had been established between the two nation's presidents. In 2010 the second BRIC Summit was held in Brazil, with proposals made for increased cooperation between Brazil and China on political and trade related issues as well as energy, mining, financial services and agriculture.[5][6]

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao said in his address to the Brazilian Congress on November 12, 2004, that ‘both Latin America and China have similar experiences in gaining national liberation, defending national independence and constructing the country’. Therefore, ‘both sides have the same feelings and common languages’. He said that ‘Sino-Latin American relations were expected to support each other in the political fields, strengthen economic complementarily, and carry out close cultural contacts’.[7]


China became Brazil's largest trading partner in 2009.[5][8] Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and many in the Brazilian media consider China to be "Brazil’s most promising business partner and a strategic ally" due to China's "rapidly rising demand for raw materials and agricultural produce".[9] Bilateral trade grew from US$6.7 billion in 2003 to US$36.7 billion in 2009.[10]

China and Brazil cooperate economically on quite some mutual beneficial projects such as the already in 1988 preparations for a joint project to construct the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite program, which in 1999 and 2002 successfully constructed two satellites providing key information on (new sources of) natural resources. Secondly, an International Satellite Communications company (INSCOM) was set up as a joint venture.[11]

Other projects in the range of the Earth Resources Satellite are the construction of Porto do Açu near Rio de Janeiro, Vitória and Campos dos Goytacazes, which can handle Chinamax containerships to import and export raw materials and manufactures vice versa.[12] Other major important infrastructure investment are the construction of a continental pipeline, roads and high speed trains.[13]

Chinese investment in Brazil takes strategic approaches and does so in strategic areas to consolidate China’s role in the Brazilian economy, this creates economic leverage, expands the zone of influence of Chinese companies in Brazil and increases interdependence. Chinese investments in Brazil are concentrated mainly in the energy, mining, steel and oil industries.[14]

In 2010, despite the generally friendly and close relationship, Brazil was one of the few emerging economies to publicly criticise China's policy in relation to the so-called Currency war. Brazil has called for China to allow a faster appreciation of its currency, which would help other countries to better compete against Chinese exports. Brazil also criticised US policy, saying both China and the US should seek to avoid escalating economic tension concerning trade and currency.[15][16]

Timeline of Diplomacy[edit]

Year Event
1961 João Goulart visits China when Jânio Quadros resigns
1982 Agreement for Cooperation of Science and Technology
1997 Agreement on Air Services
2001 Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Brazil
May 2004 Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva visited China
May 2009 Joint Action Plan, cooperation on areas: political, economic and trade, energy and mining, financial, agricultural, industry and information technology, space cooperation, cultural and educational. According to the Joint Action Plan, Brazil and China will cooperate in World Trade Organization negotiations, especially in agriculture and also jointly oppose protectionism
April 2010 Brazil and China Joint Action Plan 2010-2014 April 15, 2010
Source: Secretariat for Social Communication Presidency of the Federative Republic of Brazil[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Sino-Brazilian Principles in a Latin American and BRICS Context: The Case for Comparative Public Budgeting Legal Research". Wisconsin International Law Journal. 13 May 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  2. ^ Harris, Jerry (2005). "Emerging third world powers: China, India and Brazil". Race & Class. 46 (3): 7–27. doi:10.1177/0306396805050014. 
  3. ^ a b Some Recent Features of Brazil-China Economic Relations, April 2009
  4. ^ Jeffrey Lesser, Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities, and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1999), p. 29.
  5. ^ a b Jonathan Wheatley (2009-05-19). "Brazil and China cement ties". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  6. ^ Jonathan Wheatley in Brasília and Jamil Anderlini,in Beijing (2010-04-16). "China and Brazil to boost co-operation". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  7. ^ Shixue, Jiang (Winter 2007). "On the Development of Sino-Latin American Relations". China International Studies. 
  8. ^ Malcolm Moore, China overtakes the US as Brazil's largest trading partner, The Telegraph, 9 May 2009
  9. ^ Economic Relations between Brazil and China: A Difficult Partnership Friedrich Ebert Foundation, January 2006
  10. ^ In Brazil, Hu Jintao aims for bigger piece of Latin America trade Christian Science Monitor, 15 April 2010
  11. ^ Sauzen (June 2001). "The China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS)". ISPRS Society. 6 (2). 
  12. ^ Phillips, Tom (2010-09-15). "Brazil's huge new port highlights China's drive into South America". The Guardian. London. 
  13. ^ Shixue, Jiang. "Meeting the Dragon's Appetite: The Importance of Latin America in China's Energy Strategy". 
  14. ^ Dominguéz (June 2010). "China's Relations With Latin America: Shared Gains, Asymmetric Hopes". Inter-American Dialogue. 
  15. ^ Geoff Dyer (2010-04-10). "Brazil and India join renminbi call". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  16. ^ Jonathan Wheatley and Joe Leahy in São Paulo (2011-01-09). "Trade war looming, warns Brazil". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  17. ^ "Brazil-China Trade Relations". Brazilian Government. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 

External links[edit]