Monday, May 30, 2011

Brazil having nightmares of "neo-colonialism" as it is sucked into China's orbit

An interesting piece in the New York Times describes the conundrum Brazil finds itself in, a situation that has implications on the Korean peninsula as high-tech South Korea becomes more and more economically entwined with the PRC and the backward regime in North Korea finds itself increasingly reliant on China for its political survival.

Like South Korea, Brazil had thought that now was the time to stop being so dependent on US markets for its goods — electronics and automobiles in South Korea's case, agricultural products and raw materials in Brazil's case. In Brazil, some are questioning the wisdom of this bargain:
China has become Brazil’s biggest trading partner, buying ever increasing volumes of soybeans and iron ore, while investing billions in Brazil’s energy sector. The demand has helped fuel an economic boom here that has lifted more than 20 million Brazilians from extreme poverty and brought economic stability to a country accustomed to periodic crises.

Yet some experts say the partnership has devolved into a classic neo-colonial relationship in which China has the upper hand. Nearly 84 percent of Brazil’s exports to China last year were raw materials, up from 68 percent in 2000. But about 98 percent of China’s exports to Brazil are manufactured products — including the latest, low-priced cars for Brazil’s emerging middle class — that are beating down Brazil’s industrial sector.

“The relationship has been very unbalanced,” said Rubens Ricupero, a former Brazilian diplomat and finance minister. “There has been a clear lack of strategy on the Brazilian side.”
One can say the same of China and North Korea, which is being positioned to become a permanent part of Beijing's northeastern China development plans; at the very least China is seeking ports for its goods, but it may also be seeking markets. China has the son of Generalissimo Kim by the cojones, and with every twist they get new concessions that don't bode well for North Korea or a future unified Korean state (if Beijing were to allow that to happen).

For South Korea, it's a bit different. South Korean businesses use China as a factory floor, but Seoul is often afraid to do things that would cross Beijing, with echoes of that historic Big Brother-Little Brother relationship.

Anyway, it's just more evidence that China is not necessarily the benevolent counterbalance to Washington that some had wished for. I just hope it's not too late to do something about it. Please, ROK conglomerates, consider Vietnam, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, etc.

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