Along with India, the triumvirate of rising powers – China, India and Brazil – arguably represent the significant new force in international relations.  But do they represent a coherent alliance or even a grouping? The 3 large emerging markets are part of the G5 or even the BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China.  Do they act in collaboration or is each seeking influence and recognition as a great power part of a multipower leaders’ club?   

In planning the Beijing Conference – a partnership of the China Institutes of Contemporary International relations (CICIR) the Stanley Foundation and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), we agreed to include a series of bilateral relations papers for the Conference - “Leadership and the Global Governance Agenda.”  Beyond papers on US and China leadership we committed to papers on: China-India, China-Brazil, China-Japan and China-Asia (in particular ASEAN).  

For the Brazil-China paper, we tapped Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, to prepare this bilateral paper, which Sotero titled, “Brazil and China: Growing Asymmetries, Unmet Expectations and the Limits of Convergence in the Global South”.

The bottom line appears to be that unrealistic expectations of partnership – at least from the Brazil side – have given way to a more pragmatic – and dare I say – national interest perspective. 

Roberto Abdenur, a former Brazil ambassador to China, Germany, and the United States reveals to Sotero in an interview:

As for the G5 and the BRICs – and even though the BRIC leaders have agreed to meet I Brazil prior to the G8 and G20 Leaders’ Summit in Muskoka Canada – Sotero sees little prospect for continued existence now that the G20 Leaders Summit has gained permanent status. 

It would appear that the cold face of political reality was brought home when China determined that it would block UN Security Council reform – in order to prevent the US from continuing to promote Japan – notwithstanding China had let Brazil know that it would support it for a permanent seat. 

As for the G5 and the BRICs – and even though the BRIC leaders have agreed to meet in Brazil prior to the G8 and G20 Leaders’ Summit in Muskoka Canada – Sotero sees little prospect for continued existence of these leaders clubs now that the G20 Leaders Summit has gained permanent status. 

As Sotero concludes:

In a positive scenario, the recognition in Brazil of the growing asymmetries between the two countries’ economic capacity and their divergent political cultures and systems could lead them to develop a more mature relationship, guided by pragmatism and realistic expectations on both sides.

 

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.