Brazil’s Samba with China: Economics Brought Them Closer, but Failed to Ensure their Tango


There are many who expect China’s rising foreign direct investment (FDI) in, exports to, and economic collaboration with Latin American countries will drive such countries to adopt foreign and domestic politics friendly to China as well as China-favored policies. This article tests the power of such arguments by examining the impact of Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) in Brazil, Brazil’s trade with China, and Chinese loans to Brazil on Brazil’s China policy. It finds that broad and deep economic ties indeed have pushed Brazil in the direction of China. However, the magnitude of such changes has been limited. The reasons for bounded change include differing interests and positions at the system and state-levels. Also relevant are domestic political factors such as pressures from special interest groups in Brazil. Finally, the political power of Brazilian leaders plays a role in bounding the positive political effects expected to flow from Brazil’s deep economic interconnections with China. It must be noted that many putatively China-friendly Brazilian policies had roots long before Brazil’s economic ties with China exploded. This article calls into question the presumption that significant economic links with China and/or the prospect of such automatically will produce the China-favorable political policies some expect.

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I would like to thank Matthew Ferchen, Javier Luque, Guilherme Serodio, and two anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions and penetrating critiques. I also would like to thank Chen Yifan, Courtland Johnson, Javier Luque, Guilherme, and Xu Jing for their helpful research assistance and Guilherme for his help with translating Portuguese articles and reports.

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Correspondence to Jean-Marc F. Blanchard.

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The original version of this article was revised: When correcting the reference citations of this paper during the production process, most sources became wrongly related to the authors of other references. These errors in the paper’s bibliographical citations were caused by Springer Nature.

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Blanchard, J.F. Brazil’s Samba with China: Economics Brought Them Closer, but Failed to Ensure their Tango. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 24, 583–603 (2019).

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  • China
  • Brazil
  • Chinese outward foreign direct investment
  • Political economy of national security
  • Lula