The fifth Brazilian-Chinese dialogue on innovation was held on November 13-14 in Rio de Janeiro. In the course of this large-scale event, the representatives of the diplomatic corps and experts discussed the state of the innovation sphere, the main trends in its development and the opportunities it offers to respond to current internal and external challenges. How are Brazilian-Chinese relations developing today? How do Brazil and China intend to cooperate in a globalizing world?
This year, the Forum was held against the backdrop of the recent presidential elections in Brazil, which were won by the representative of the ultra-right forces Jair Bolsonaro. The participants of the two countries discussed the current development of the sphere of innovations and future horizons for cooperation between the two countries, as well as how to respond to internal and external challenges with the help of innovations. The Minister Counsellor of the PRC Embassy in Brazil, Qu Yuhui, emphasized that the innovation cooperation between the two countries has a long history and has provided developing countries with a new model of innovation. According to him, the cooperation project in the development of satellites for monitoring natural resources, initiated by China and Brazil 30 years ago, remains a classic example of “South-South” cooperation. It is worth noting that the intensification of “South-South” interaction was reflected in the coordination of positions on various political issues in such reputable international organisms as the UN, BRICS and the G-20. However, on many issues, such as supporting the Brazilian candidature for the position of permanent member of the UN Security Council, contradictions remain.
Within the framework of the Forum, it was repeatedly noted that countries are trying to establish closer cooperation in areas such as space meteorology, nanotechnology and new materials. The two countries are also actively cooperating in the field of production facilities and are developing more diversified cooperation in logistics, communications and other industries. According to many leading economists, the model of Brazilian-Chinese cooperation is a model of cooperation in the field of innovation.
“On the margins” of the Forum, the participants also discussed the issue of multilateralism. According to the speeches of the representatives of the two countries, the initiative “Belt and Road” put forward by China is like “fresh blood” for multilateralism. Concepts such as the formation of a community with a single fate for humanity and the creation of international relations of a new type have become the contribution of “Chinese wisdom” to the development of multilateralism against the background of new conditions of a globalizing world.
Today, the relations between China and Brazil are based on the same principles that the Chinese leadership established for all of its main partners in the Latin American region: exporting raw materials to saturate the huge domestic market, where until now the merger of city and village leads to an increase in food consumption and durable goods. China’s search for soybean suppliers as the basis of the cattle-breeding base and oil as fuel and energy leads to the fact that the trade balance of Latin American countries largely depends on the “Asian giant”.
China has many opportunities for investment, which is of particular importance for countries such as Brazil, which do not have large stocks of their own funds. From 2010-2017 in Brazil, about 135 projects were implemented with Chinese participation totaling $ 55 billion. The entire investment is not always reflected in the statistics maintained by the Central Bank of Brazil, as some operations in projects involving Chinese capital are carried out by third countries.
The strengthening of the Chinese presence in the Brazilian market occurred in 2014, after the oil companies “Petrochina” and “CNOOC” became involved in the development of the “Campo de Libra” field (state of Rio de Janeiro). Both corporations, together with the Brazilian state-owned oil company “Petrobras”, in collaboration with the Dutch-British company “Shell” and the French company “Total”, formed a consortium to develop the field, which contains about 12 billion barrels of oil located at great depth.
Today, China and Brazil are actively developing cooperation in the aviation industry. According to the data of December 2017, the enterprise “Embraer” has supplied about 180 aircraft to China over the past 5 years, which expanded its presence in the Latin American region by 80%.
In addition to the Brazilian-Chinese cooperation in the economic, political and energy spheres, it is worth highlighting the interaction of the two states in the field of culture and education. Bilateral exchanges between China and Brazil testify to mutual understanding and rapprochement between the peoples of the two countries, and the commitment to increase cooperation in the academic environment at the bilateral level each year fully complies with the “Science Without Borders” program launched by the administration of President Dilma Rousseff. In 2017, under this agreement, the PRC provided about 300 grants for Brazilian students.
Summing up, it is worth emphasizing that Brazilian-Chinese cooperation is of fundamental importance for both states, which to some extent makes them mutually dependent on each other. China continues to need Brazilian agricultural products, metallurgy, and minerals to continue its economic growth, while Brazil needs Chinese investment and advanced technology. An obvious problem in the interaction between China and Brazil is the modest presence of Brazilian investors in the Celestial Empire, largely because of the restrictive measures imposed by the Chinese government.
As many analysts estimate, the potential of the Brazilian-Chinese cooperation is great enough, and in the future, even greater intensification of relations is expected with their transition to a higher level. Today, the Brazilian-Chinese interaction is still a multi-level link between the two largest countries in the developing world. According to political scientists, being an important component of new economic subjects, the relations of Brazil and China have gone beyond the traditional sphere of bilateral relations and have a strategic meaning and great importance in the conditions of the modern world. Brazil’s cooperation with China contributes to the development of “South-South” relations, supporting respect for the legitimate rights of developing countries, as well as the formation of balanced and peaceful relations of the international community.
In the framework of the Forum, held in Rio de Janeiro, the participants repeatedly pointed out that innovative cooperation between the two countries has a long history and was initiated by the development of satellites for monitoring natural resources. China and Brazil also interact in the field of transport, logistics, development of communications, production capacity, the development of advanced technologies, etc.
In addition, the parties noted the importance of the project “One Belt – One Road”, which makes a great contribution not only to the infrastructure and transport development of many countries of the world, but also supports global multilateral approaches in the global economy and politics and serves as the main element for the development of multilateralism. According to the Forum participants, this is especially important in the current international situation, when protectionist tendencies reappear.