Chinese President Xi Jinping will today meet Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao in Beijing to conclude the latest round of high-level talks between China and Brazil.
Relations between the two BRIC nations have suffered since the election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro last year. Mr. Bolsonaro portrayed China as a predatory economic power “buying Brazil” during his election campaign. More recently, the right-wing president accused China of trying to establish a monopoly of niobium a rare earth mineral used to make steel lighter and more resistant, of which Brazil contains 85% of the world’s reserves.
However, talks over the past week appear to have borne fruit. On Tuesday, Brazil agreed to drop a pending World Trade Organisation claim against Chinese sugar trade policies.
Despite the rhetoric, the Bolsonaro government needs to maintain good relations with China. China is Brazil’s most important trading partner and a major source of investment, providing between 2003 and 2018 almost $134 billion.
China has been seeking Mr. Bolsonaro’s support for its Belt and Road Initiative, which Brazil has yet to decide on. The president is currently playing a careful balancing game between supporting the nationalism that won him his office and taking free market actions to stimulate a stagnant economy.