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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, deliver joint statements in Brasilia, Brazil. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, deliver statements at the 11th BRICS Summit, in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

For Brazil’s Bolsonaro, U.S.-China Tensions Are a Challenge and an Opportunity

, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020

President Jair Bolsonaro assumed office in 2019 with the goal of aligning Brazil’s foreign policy with Western democracies and ending the economic dependence on China that grew markedly under his predecessors in the left-wing Workers’ Party. In his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro positioned himself as a candidate of the right, speaking out against “socialism” and “communism,” with pointed references to neighboring Venezuela, and openly identified with the right-wing populist message of U.S. President Donald Trump.

So far, Bolsonaro’s attempt to reorient Brazil’s foreign policy toward the U.S. has met with mixed success, in part because China’s leaders have outworked their counterparts in both Washington and Brasilia. However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and intensifying U.S.-China competition over next-generation 5G networks, Washington is expressing continued interest in deepening ties with Brazil, potentially reenergizing Bolsonaro’s realignment plans. ...

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