U.S.-China-Brazil Relations - The Role of Perceptions in International Relations
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Throughout the 20th century, Brazil pursued a foreign policy focused in two ultimate goals: economic development and regional leadership. During the same period, the relationship with the United States had been the key component of Brazilian diplomacy. However, the beginning of the 21st century has been marked by new dynamics in Brazilian foreign policy. On the one hand, the United States has pursued efforts towards rapprochement with its South American neighbor. On the other hand, relations with China have boomed and exponentially increased over the last ten years. In response, Brazil has exhibited semi-hostile behavior towards the United States and a friendly attitude towards China. How can one explain Brazil’s behavior towards the U.S. and China and how are they related? This study analyzes the development of U.S.-China-Brazil relations in the last 10 years, focusing on how it has impacted Brazil’s foreign policy. I explain Brasília’s semi-aggressive interactions towards Washington and welcoming interactions towards Beijing, while discussing how Brazil’s dyadic relationship with the United States has impacted its relations with China and vice-versa. I argue that Brazil’s change in foreign policy is influenced by how the South American giant perceives the United States and China. I develop my argument by evoking Constructivist concepts of shared history, reputation and image, which will be used as tools to understand Brazil’s behavior. I apply these concepts to examine the history of relations between these countries, as well as the main accomplishments and conflict points between U.S. and Brazil and China and Brazil during the 2000s.