The Brazilian Perception of China’s Belt and Road Initiative
38 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 2019
This paper presents an assessment of the perception of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Brazilian society, with particular attention to the views of experts, the media, and Parliament. This assessment is relevant in light of the movement between countries and the speculation concerning Brazil's entry into the BRI, even if the country has kept a deliberate distance from the initiative. In this context, the success of a potential adhesion to the BRI by Brazil – a pluralist and multiparty democracy – largely depends on the degree of consensus on the issues at play, whether in formal decision-making arenas or with the public opinion. We analyzed 43 publications in the specialized literature between 2015 and 2019; 266 articles/ news reports/opinion columns in the main Brazilian media vehicles between 2017 and 2019; and the archive of speeches and debates in Brazil’s Senate and Congress. We arrived at the conclusion that there is currently a high degree of unfamiliarity about the BRI and that the subject arouses little interest among parliamentarians and academics. This presents a special opportunity for initiatives that seek to shape BRI's image among sectors in Brazilian society – business, decision makers, academia, members of government, the political class, civil society, and public opinion. On the other hand, we should bear in mind that the current elevated social and ideological polarization in Brazil makes consensus building especially challenging.
Keywords: Belt and Road Initiative, China, Brazil, Perception
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