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Cultural Challenges in Brazil-China Relations: The Analytical Perspective of Anthropology


Brazil and China have enjoyed a remarkable trade partnership. The conflict in Ukraine presents an opportunity for Brazil and China to deepen their economic partnership and establish a new standard of international collaboration. The fact that both countries have complementary interests, political values, and similar growth objectives makes this possibility more feasible.


According to Forbes, the year of 2021, we sent US$ 41 billion to the Asian country, accounting for 34% of our agricultural exports. Brazil is the main supplier of agricultural products to China, responsible for about 20% of all imports in the Asian country. Given this scenario, the vast Asian market becomes evident, as despite its high production, it continues to import to ensure food security – our country has the capacity to produce and be a reliable partner to meet demands.


In addition to agricultural production, it is relevant to note that Brazil and China share various political principles, such as the defense of multipolarity and the global norm-based system. These shared principles can contribute to promoting stability and security in the region, which is advantageous for both countries. Moreover, Brazil and China are collaborating to develop new technologies, such as nuclear energy and artificial intelligence. These technologies have the potential to transform the global economy and create new opportunities for trade and investment.


However, to ensure that this collaboration is truly lasting and successful, it is crucial for entrepreneurs and negotiators on both sides to deeply understand cultural differences and similarities.


Positive connections between Chinese and Brazilians have been clearly noticeable in my research, but we must acknowledge that cultural subtleties can be crucial to the success of negotiations. What may signify friendship and sympathy for us Brazilians may be interpreted differently by the Chinese and vice versa. Informalities and lack of punctuality are examples of behaviors that require cultural sensitivity to avoid misunderstandings.


As a Ph.D. student in anthropology who has devoted time to researching cultural interactions between Brazil and China, I always keep cultural elements in mind during my interactions. For instance, understanding the tonal nature of the Chinese language is essential to accurately interpret intentions in different contexts.


It is essential to avoid simplistic generalizations, as China is as diverse as Brazil, with varied traditions, languages, and behaviors. As an anthropologist, my approach emphasizes a detailed understanding of cultural peculiarities, avoiding stereotypes and prejudices. This may not always be understood by individuals who are not research experts, even if they have extensive experience in the country.


When dealing with cultural divergences, it is crucial to recognize that what may be considered a positive relationship characteristic in Brazil, may be interpreted differently in China. Being aware of this, we identify key elements with distinct representations to enable precise and efficient communication during commercial relations.


If you would like to learn more about the nuances of cultural relations between both countries and enhance your business connections with China, I am available to share valuable insights and personalized strategies.


Brazil and China are two enormous countries with a long history of good relations. China being one of Brazil's major trade allies fosters connections that, when established with a deeper cultural understanding from an anthropological perspective in Brazil-China relations, can become increasingly profitable and efficient for both sides.

Brazil's president Lula and China's presidente Xi Jinping

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Field note daily: Just notes from everyday anthropological life

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