Ex-Foreign Minister admits cutting ties with Chinese ambassador

President Jair Bolsonaro greets Chinese Ambassador Yang Wanming — Ernesto Araújo stands in the background. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR
President Jair Bolsonaro greets Chinese official — Ernesto Araújo stands in the background. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

During his deposition to the Senate’s coronavirus inquiry, former Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo admitted that he requested the removal of the Chinese ambassador in Brazil, Yang Wanming.

“I wrote to the Chinese chancellor to complain about the work of the Chinese ambassador, in the name of good foreign relations between Brazil and China,” said Mr. Araújo, when asked by Senator Humberto Costa. The response was in relation to the former Foreign Minister’s falling out with Mr. Yang, after Mr. Araújo issued an official statement demanding an apology from the Chinese ambassador after he called the Bolsonaro family “poison.”

Mr. Yang’s outburst came in response to President Jair Bolsonaro’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, calling SARS-CoV-2 the “Chinese virus” while he led the lower house’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The Chinese ambassador caused great offense by retweeting a post that said: ‘The Bolsonaro family is Brazil’s poison.’ I think that is very serious, when an ambassador, governed by the principles of the Vienna Convention, retweets a post saying that the family of a head of state is ‘Brazil’s poison.'” 

The Brazilian Report ascertained that Messrs. Araújo and Yang were not on speaking terms at the beginning of the year, and that negotiations with China over vaccine inputs had to be intermediated by Communications Minister Fábio Faria and Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina.