Japan has approached Brazil to form, together with the US, a “strategic partnership” to “defend common values” like democracy and free markets in South America and Asia, Brazilian newspaper Folha reports. Foreign minister Ernesto Araujo has embraced the project with “enthusiasm”.
The plan entails forming a “high level dialogue” between the three nations and was presented in 2019, according to Folha. The Japanese, it adds, saw in president Jair Bolsonaro´s closeness to the US administration an opportunity for the alignment.
Even though the Brazilian Foreign minister was alerted internally that China, the country’s largest trading partner, could view Brazil´s participation in the dialogue as a “provocation”, Araujo has been enthusiastic about the idea and plans to launch the initiative in the next few months.
Information security, along with democracy and free markets, is another issue that the US is expected to introduce at the trilateral initiative, namely 5G technologies, the Brazilian newspaper adds. The US has been warning Brazil not to deploy chinese-made 5G technology, citing security concerns.
Japan and the US have similar high level dialogues with India and Australia.
Relations between China and Brazil have been strained in the last few months, as Goverment members, and even the president´s son, have made several anti-Chinese remarks. Education Minister Abraham Weintraub has been accused by opponents of racism.
In a webcast press conference in Brasilia on Friday, China’s ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, reacted to the criticism by saying that there are “appeals from various sectors of Brazilian society to overcome the difficulties of the moment”.
“It is a broad and solid consensus between the two groups that we must preserve and develop the friendly cooperation relations between China and Brazil in the best way. At the same time, we advise critical critics to consider more the feelings of the two peoples and the general interests of the partnership and friendship between the two countries”, he said.
“A long-term perspective is important. The pandemic is a transitory problem. We have a robust partnership with enormous potential and the friendship and cooperation of the two countries are the result of the efforts of several generations. Instead of harming, we have to do our part to favor these bonds of friendship between the two peoples, ”he said.
China’s chief diplomat in Brazil also pointed out that the country is ready to deepen bilateral relations. “The Chinese side is ready to work with the Brazilian government and the various sectors of society in order to increase mutual trust and expand bilateral cooperation, deepen them and grow continuously, for the benefit of both peoples. The Chinese part, we are confident that we will see with a long view. To maintain the friendship and cooperation between China and Brazil, deepening and consolidating”, Yang Wanming added.
Regarding the relationship with Brazil, the ambassador pointed out that there is still a lot of space to deepen bilateral trade, including the creation of free trade between the two nations or with Mercosur. “With regard to bilateral trade, China has remained, for the past 15 years, Brazil’s largest export partner and destination. Brazil is the only country in Latin America with trade of US $ 7 billion. In 2020, bilateral trade registered an increase of 3.5%, and Brazil sold almost 11% more than in the same period as last year, including soybeans, iron ore, cellulose and others”, said the representative.
Brazil-China relations have been put to a further strain with the release by the Brazilian Supreme Court of a recording of a Government meeting where the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, says the Chinese Government should pay for a Marshall Plan to all countries that have been hit by Covid-19.
Photo: Brazilian foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo