Since Wednesday, when Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro blamed China for the Covid-19 outbreak, tensions between Brasília and Beijing have escalated rapidly. The Chinese Embassy in Brazil swiftly reacted to the words of the president’s son, asking for an immediate retraction—which came from House Speaker Rodrigo Maia.
During a conference call with business leaders, Mr. Bolsonaro was asked to improve relations with the Asian giant—where many inputs used by Brazilian factories are produced. The president replied that his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping is “excellent.”
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro supporters ramped the diplomatic crisis up another notch, placing offensive signs just outside of the Chinese Embassy building in Brasilia. They call both Xi Jinping and Ambassador Yang Wanming “sons of bitches.”
Earlier today, newspaper Valor reported that Jair Bolsonaro tried to contact Xi Jinping to bury the hatchet—but the Chinese leader refused to take his call.
As a presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro threw diatribes at China time and again. When he was elected president, however, the Brazilian far-right politician toned down his rhetoric, aware that China is Brazil’s number one trading partner—on which Brazil’s commodity exporters heavily rely. Politically isolated due to his failure to handle the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Bolsonaro seems to have returned to his old ways.