The appointment of Carlos Alberto França as new Brazilian foreign minister is widely expected to improve Brazil’s relations with China, its biggest trading partner, easing tensions during the mandate of predecessor Ernesto Araújo.
Diplomat Rubens Barbosa, who was Brazil’s ambassador to Washington, praised the choice of França, in particular for being able to help Brazil’s relationship with China and the United States.
“Carlos França was chief of staff of the embassy that I presided over in Washington for almost 5 years, I think he will bring important changes: to mold a new character, a style in rhetoric and to try to reconstruct what was affected in those first two years at Itamaraty and with countries like China and the United States”, said Barbosa, in an interview with CNN.
Carlos Alberto França was assigned to the Foreign Ministry after the fall of minister Ernesto Araújo, who resigned under pressure from Congress and the business sector.
The relationship with China, cited by Barbosa as one of the causes of Araújo’s fall, is central because the Asian country is Brazil’s main trading partner. Regarding the United States, the current chancellor was seen as close to the government of former President Donald Trump and viewed with skepticism by Joe Biden’s management.
“China is our main trading partner, the USA is our partner. My impression is that França will try to rebuild the bridges that were detonated”, says Rubens Barbosa.
França takes over the chancellery without having previously held any post at ambassador level, having spent almost his entire career in the ceremonial area, assuming the protocol of the Presidency of the Republic with Jair Bolsonaro and, more recently, a place in the Special Advisory Office of the Presidency.
França worked at Planalto (Presidency) during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer governments, always in the Ceremonial area.
The new minister is 56 years old, comes from Goiânia state and has two children. He holds a degree in Law and International Relations from the University of Brasília (UnB).
In Época magazine, columnist Guilherme Amado stated that França “will have a performance without prejudice to China, as Ernesto Araújo did, but without public nods”. “In the words of a diplomat close to him, França `will not go hand in hand´ with Yang Wanming, the Chinese ambassador in Brasilia.”
The president of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, Aécio Neves, said that the departure of Chancellor Ernesto Araújo from the head of the Foreign Ministry is an opportunity for change in the conduct of Brazilian foreign policy, in order to seek more integration with the world.
Aécio added that Brazilian foreign policy should focus on multilateralism and that this necessarily involves a broader relationship with the various countries and regions of the world, for example, in search of a vaccine against Covid-19. “Our international relationship must be broad, universal, without exclusions or automatic alignments,” he commented.
In Folha de São Paulo newspaper, journalist Patrícia Mello Campos wrote that França will have as one of his first missions “to show that, with Ernesto’s departure, public fights with China are at a turning point”. “The minister’s interlocutors believe that it is necessary to make gestures in this direction for the country,” she said.
“It does not mean turning a blind eye to the strategic threat posed by China, nor to human rights violations in the country, but, rather, to have a pragmatic relationship,” said the journalist.
In an editorial, Correio Braziliense newspaper criticized the predecessor of França, considering “it is difficult to look at the precedents of the bilateral crises that Brazil opened with China, Germany, Argentina and France, in addition to the government’s unthinkable behavior in the face of the victory of the American president, Joe Biden”.
“The end of diplomatic daydreams will require, as international policy experts have been warning, a posture of building good relations with President Joe Biden and his team, as well as China, with respect and strategic treatment as great trading partners do. There is no point in taking a risk in a silly view that the United States will maintain an alliance with Brazil, due to the scenario of containment with China”, said the Brazilian newspaper.
Former minister Ernesto Araújo released, through his social network, the letter of resignation presented to President Bolsonaro. In the document, Araújo claims to have been the victim of a “false and hypocritical narrative, serving national and foreign vested interests”, being accused of harming Brazil in the acquisition of vaccines.