Analyst warns against the proximity of Bolsonaro

A visit to Taipei made last February by Bolsonaro, a favorite on the presidential runoff, resulted in a formal protest by Chinese diplomacy and Bolsanaro's government program refers to Taiwan as a country four times.

A Brazilian political analyst based in China has warned that the close relations of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro to Taiwan could affect relations between Brazil and Beijing.

A visit to Taipei made last February by Bolsonaro, a favorite on the presidential runoff, resulted in a formal protest by Chinese diplomacy and Bolsanaro's government program refers to Taiwan as a country four times.

"It is important for Bolsonaro to be aware that the 'One-China' principle is sovereign and non-negotiable for Beijing," says José Medeiros da Silva, a doctorate in Political Science from the University of São Paulo and a professor at the University of International Studies in Zhejiang, in the east coast of China.

Beijing considers Taiwan a Chinese province and advocates a "peaceful reunification," but threatens to "use force" if the island declares independence. Taiwan, the island where the former Chinese nationalist government took refuge after the Communists took power on the mainland in 1949, identifies itself as being part of the Republic of China.

The 'One China' principle [seen by Beijing as a guarantee that Taiwan is part of its territory] is considered by the Chinese authorities as a prerequisite and political basis for maintaining diplomatic relations with other countries.

"If Bolsonaro decides to treat Taiwan as a country, there is no doubt that there will be a breakup, not only diplomatic but also commercial, and in all ways," says Medeiros da Silva.

"China does not negotiate this principle," he says

Last March, the former mayor of Rio de Janeiro, César Maia, revealed a protest letter sent by the Chinese embassy in Brasilia to the National Executive Committee of the Democrats, in which the Chinese authorities say they face Bolsonaro's visit to Taipei with "deep concern and indignation. "

In the same note, the Chinese embassy considered the trip an "affront to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China," which "causes possible turbulence in the China-Brazil Strategic Partnership, in which partisan exchange plays an indispensable role."

During his visit to Taiwan, Bolsonaro met with members of the Taiwanese government.

José Medeiros da Silva believes, however, that Bolsonaro will not recognize Taiwan as a country if elected, pointing to the importance of the Chinese market for the Brazilian economy.

"Part of the support base that should lead to his election is linked to agribusiness, which is the major exporter to China, and to the mining sector," he says.

"In a time of economic crisis, causing a diplomatic crisis of these proportions, would not make much sense," he said.

Ever since president Tsai Ing-wen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, a pro-independence party, arrived to power in Taiwan, in May 2016, a total of 5 countries have cut ties with Taipei including São Tomé and Príncipe, recognizing Beijing as the only government in the entirety of China.

The island currently has diplomatic relations with only 17 countries worldwide.

The European Union countries maintain unofficial government relations with Taiwan. In Portugal, there is a Cultural and Economic Center of Taipei.

China is Brazil's largest trading partner and the largest foreign investor in the South American country.

In 2017, trade between Brazil and China reached 87.53 billion dollars, a year-on-year increase of 29.55%. China sold goods worth $29.23 billion and imported goods worth $ 58.30 billion, according to official Chinese data released by the Macau Forum.

Brazilian exports to the Asian country are composed mainly of oil, soybeans and iron ore.

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