News July 20, 2020

Testing the limits of China and Brazil’s partnership

During the periods when it sought international autonomy, Brazil has found in China an attractive partner in criticizing the liberal international order fostered by the United States in the wake of World War II.
Photo of two men.
Reuters

Brazil is China’s most important economic and political partner in South America, as well as a key participant in the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) grouping of emerging powers that China increasingly leads. When it comes to global aspirations, China and Brazil have historically been in sync on their critiques of the liberal international order, if not on their preferred remedies. Historically, their prescriptions for foreign policy differ in important ways. China would prefer a world order that better accommodates its interests, and it is becoming less reluctant to use the threat of force in foreign policy to maintain its ascendancy in its geopolitical neighborhood. Brazil traditionally has preferred a rules-bound liberal international order that applies to everyone, especially superpowers. Unlike China, it foreswears the use of coercion in international affairs, even to protect its interests in its immediate neighborhood, South America.

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