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China, Brazil: friends beyond football

2014-07-16 09:52 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

During the World Cup, employees of the Brazil plant of Chinese car maker Chery were given time off for every match of the Brazilian team.

The games became a "happy-hour"; a time for Chinese and Brazilian employees to socialize together.

Chery has been operating in Brazil since 2009, a recent chapter in cooperation stretching back to the early 19th century, when Chinese tea growers took their skills to Brazil.

"Brazil does not have its own car brands. It is vital for Brazil to improve car manufacturing capability," said Luis Curi, deputy general manager of Chery Brazil.

Chery has plans to invest 400 million U.S. dollars in an industrial park in Jacarei, a small city in the state of Sao Paulo, creating more than 3,000 jobs.

"I hope our city can one day become a motor city," Curi said.

As members of BRICS, China and Brazil cooperate as emerging powers. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Brazil for a state visit on Monday and will attend the BRICS summit in Fortaleza.

"China-Brazil relations are a driving force in the relation between China and Latin America," said Zhou Zhiwei, a Latin American studies researcher at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China's official think tank. "The relationship is deepening, not only for the benefit of the two countries, but as part of the establishment of a new world order."

According to Zhou, China's growing investment in Brazil suggests economic cooperation has entered a new phase. Brazil's rapidly expanding middle-class has huge consumption needs that Chinese companies are doing their best to accommodate.

China is Brazil's biggest trade partner. Trade volume between China and Brazil increased 5.3 percent to about 90 billion U.S. dollars in 2013. In addition to bulk commodities, investment has begun to play an important role. Chinese companies have been heavily investing in Brazil's mining and energy sectors.

In 2013, the two countries' central banks signed a currency swap agreement, the first such deal between China and a BRICS country.

As China and Brazil deepen economic cooperation, more Brazilians are becoming interested in Chinese culture. Soon after joining the finance department of Chery Brazil, Miguel Gomez signed up for Chinese language and cultural programs at a nearby Confucius Institute. Brazil now has seven Confucius Institutes. Chery invites Brazilian engineers to its headquarters in east China's Anhui Province for training.

Brazilian art and music also appeal to Chinese people. The Brazilian Embassy is an active user of Sina Weibo, China's microblogging site, and more than 60 Brazil interest groups can be found on the popular cyber community Douban.

Brazil's defeat in the World Cup saddened many Chinese football fans. A sports center built with Chinese money opens on Tuesday in the state of Sao Paulo, and in 1993, Brazil helped train a group of teenage football players who took the Chinese team to the World Cup 2002, China's only foray onto the world football stage so far.

"Only deep understanding with a sincere attitude can win respect and trust in overseas investment," said Du Weiqiang, deputy general manager of Chery's international business.

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