China and Brazil will each see events of national significance in October. China will convene the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), during which the new Party leadership will be elected and Brazil's presidential election will deliver a new national president.
The two countries are both major emerging economies and members of the BRICS grouping. Since diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in 1974, bilateral relations have gone along a sound and stable path, with their mutually beneficial cooperation producing strong results.
China is Brazil's largest trading partner and imports huge amounts of Brazilian agricultural products and iron ore. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has assisted Brazil to contain the virus by providing pandemic-related materials and supplies. Investment from China and bilateral trade are greatly helping Brazil's economic recovery—and growth.
However, the two countries' relationship seems to be concentrated on trade, with their two peoples knowing little about each other. Football and the Amazon rainforest may be all many Chinese know about Brazil; for many Brazilians, China impresses them as a populous country that is the home to pandas.
The two countries, nevertheless, are attractive to one another's people. Many Chinese are eager to visit, invest in and study in Brazil, but most of them have to give up their plans due to the lack of necessary information. The Brazilians' interest in China is no smaller. More and more are paying attention to information about China, either from Chinese media or other channels. That is why many Chinese people are paying attention to the upcoming presidential election in Brazil and those in Brazil have taken an interest in the 20th CPC National Congress.
There is thus great potential for closer connection between the two peoples in the future. Both countries boast a long history and civilization, and there is potential for these civilizations to mingle with and learn from each other.
Tourism, the media and education may be the most effective means to connect the two peoples. Media outlets, particularly, should lead the way.
Brazilian media is relatively independent, but it is highly influenced by U.S. media in terms of the themes it follows and the views it puts forward. The United States was the first country to recognize Brazil's independence in 1822 and the two have maintained close political and economic ties. In July 2019, the U.S. declared Brazil a "major non-NATO ally." As a result of this close association, negative reports on China on Brazil media are mainly references and quotes from U.S. media, while positive reports are largely original works by locals, but the latter only accounts for a small fraction. The vast majority of Brazilians have never been to China and their knowledge about China is largely based on U.S. disinformation.
Mainstream media in China do not talk too much about Brazil, but their reports are objective. It is the Chinese media's immunity from Western influence that makes it possible to make positive and responsible reports.
As developing countries, China and Brazil have extensive consensus on many topics. The press and media in both countries are expected to play a positive role in directing the public in the right way. Brazilian media, in particular, need to offer its public more objective reports on China to encourage appreciation for each other's culture and bring the two peoples closer in heart and mind. BR
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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