Tilting at windmills
in Beef, Bible and Bullets
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Chapter 12 takes a look at another divisive issue: China. Over the last twenty years, Brazil has become increasingly dependent on the Chinese market. Bolsonaro’s more radical supporters want to reduce or even break links with China, arguing that Brazil’s national sovereignty is at risk. But China is comfortably Brazil’s biggest trading partner, and the agribusiness and mining interests worry that they could lose markets. At the same time, China’s investments in energy and telecommunications are strategically important for Brazil. Unwinding these connections would carry a heavy economic cost and would be politically controversial. During the coronavirus pandemic, tensions with China grew. Bolsonaro’s supporters blamed China for the virus and opposed the use of the vaccines developed by Chinese companies, but during 2020 China’s rapid recovery meant that it has become an even more important market for Brazil’s commodity exports.

Beef, Bible and Bullets

Brazil in the age of Bolsonaro


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