Mar 11th, 2024

Brazil's Reindustralization and the Role of China in This Process

By Wang Fei

With the backdrop of increasing polarization in the international geopolitical landscape, major powers are intensifying strategic competition around the spaces between. The Third World is emerging as a significant development force, prompting China to actively participate in the construction of a global order primarily led by the Third World and independent of the US-led systems. The “Belt and Road” initiative serves as a practical solution in this regard. Brazil, while not formally participating, actively engages in comprehensive cooperation with China, closely aligning with the core principles of the Belt and Road initiative.


Influenced by factors such as the global economic development trend and changes in domestic economic and social environments, Brazil initiated a process of “deindustrialization” since the 1980s persisting to the present day. Under the leadership of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula), industrialization has regained prominence in Brazil’s development agenda. The emphasis is on modern manufacturing-based industrialization as a necessary condition for Brazil to successfully avoid the pitfalls of dependence on commodity exports.


Despite Brazil not having formally signed the Belt and Road cooperation agreements, Lula’s administration has, through practical actions, expressed Brazil’s acknowledgment of China’s influence in the new global political and economic order. The close alignment between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Brazil’s reindustrialization strategy serves as a fresh demonstration of cooperation between China and countries outside the Belt and Road Initiative.


The neoliberal development model imposed on Brazil by Western capitalism has resulted in the phenomenon of “deindustrialization” within this country. As Brazil seeks reindustrialization with China’s support, potential interference from the United States looms. Despite this, Lula adopts a pragmatic multilateral diplomatic approach to safeguard Brazil’s independence and avoid aligning with any particular side. There are instances where perceptions attribute Brazil’s deindustrialization to China, and the distorted trade structure between the two nations is singled outas a cause. Additionally, concerns arise about the possibility of Brazil entering a “new form of subordination” through its trade cooperation with China in the primary sector, covering oil, agricultural products, and mineral resources.


Indeed, understanding the economic relationship between China and Brazil requires consideration of the changes in the global economic environment and the respective positions of China and Brazil in the global division of labor and trade. As a resource-rich nation, Brazil predominantly exports primary products, and its domestic manufacturing sector has faced reduced competitiveness due to years of deindustrialization. The trade structure between China and Brazil closely aligns with Brazil’s overall foreign trade structure. Consequently, economic and trade cooperation between China and Brazil has become a crucial driving force for Brazil to recover from the post-pandemic economic downturn. China’s substantial import demand also contributes to the stability of commodity prices in Brazil, enabling the country to gain export benefits.


The reindustrialization cooperation between China and Brazil should be guided by the following principles:

1. Promote comprehensive and systematic Sino-Brazilian cooperation.

     On the first level, consider the cooperation cost-benefit from the perspective of the Sino-Brazilian community with a shared future. This implies that collaboration between the two parties should not be assessed solely based on immediate gains or losses; instead, it should strive for mutual benefits with a “patient capital” approach in the long term.

     On the second level, evaluate the cooperation benefits within the framework of the interactive integration of agriculture, industry, and services between the two nations. Brazilian agribusiness enterprises involved in agricultural equipment manufacturing, agricultural product production and sales, and high-value-added agricultural product manufacturing and processing have the foundation and capability to become demonstration industries for future cooperation.

     On the third level, infrastructure construction is the prerequisite for all cooperation and ensures the smooth flow of trade.

2. Establish specific guidance to direct Sino-Brazilian cooperation.

     Firstly, adopt a security-oriented approach to jointly create the security environment of the industrial chain and supply chain, enhancing sustainable development capabilities.

     Secondly, employ a green-oriented approach to jointly achieve dual carbon goals and implement the concept of green development.

     Thirdly, take a development-oriented approach when viewing the imbalance in the Sino-Brazilian trade structure from a long-term perspective, placing emphasis on the cumulative aspects during the course of cooperation development.

     Lastly, adopt a technology-oriented approach to capitalize on the latest technological advancements and elevate the technological intensity within bilateral cooperation.


China, as the world’s largest developing country and a default member of the Global South, considers establishing strategic and in-depth new international relations with Global South nations a crucial strategic objective in the upcoming decades. The Belt and Road Initiative, by offering public goods, has the potential to assist Brazil in overcoming Western constraints and steering towards a positive developmental path.

Wang Fei (王飞) is associate researcher at the Institute of Latin American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Leveraging Capital with the Visible Hand of Nation

By Huang Dongya, Zhang Chenxi

The development of high-tech industries requires the continuous investment of “patient capital,” with a focus not on short-term returns but on tolerating longer-term and uncertain growth. This approach aims to address challenges related to technology accumulation and scientific innovation. Government equity investment in the early stages of industrial development is one of its crucial forms. Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and others have utilized government-guided funds to support the development of high-tech industries.


In China, the provision of patient capital to high-tech industries in the form of equity investment has gradually developed, becoming an increasingly important tool in national industrial policies. The operation of China’s government-guided funds can be understood on various levels, including growth drivers, the role of the state, policy objectives, and the tensions between all these factors.


Firstly, China’s government-guided funds have benefited from three key driving forces.

(1) The Chinese government consistently introduces specialized policies for government-guided funds, gradually expanding from venture capital funds to innovation funds, industry investment funds, and various other directions.

(2) The central government has implemented the “New Budget Law,” imposing time constraints on local fiscal funds. This has prompted governments to convert fiscal funds into government-guided funds as part of a long-term capital investment strategy.

(3) In the transition from primarily managing businesses to a focus on capital management, state-owned capital becomes a crucial component of government-guided funds. This shift has led to the establishment of state-owned asset management companies and the formation of government-guided funds to optimize the investment of state-owned assets.


Secondly, the state plays multiple roles in government-guided funds.

(1) As a practitioner involved in the development of the government-guided fund system, the state must continually attract capital inflow. This involves consistently enhancing the investment environment in the capital market and creating diverse fund operation models at the local level.

(2) As a contributor to the market-oriented operation of fiscal funds, the state’s dual attributes of “state” and “market” offer several advantages for the efficient functioning of funds.

(3) As the regulator of government-guided funds, the state is responsible for overseeing capital regulation. These funds undergo horizontal supervision from various departments, including the China Securities Regulatory Commission, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, National Development and Reform Commission, and Ministry of Finance. Additionally, they are subject to vertical supervision from local agencies under the central financial management department.


Thirdly, behind the state’s multiple roles are multiple government policy objectives. Government-guided funds not only aim to achieve the development goals of high-tech industries but also need to achieve multiple other objectives, including the balancing of market returns, fiscal fund security, state-owned asset preservation and appreciation, local development, official performance, and regulatory effectiveness. There are tensions among these multiple objectives, such as the tension between market return demands and industrial development goals, the tension between the investment risks of guiding fund investments and the security of fiscal funds, as well as the preservation and appreciation of state assets, and the tension between government administrative management and the market-oriented operation of funds. These tensions constitute the multiple logics driving the operation of government-guided funds.


Finally, it should be noted that there are differences in the models of capital investment for industrial development in different countries. Compared with the “stock capitalism” model in the UK and the US, China, as a state, exhibits significant dominance over bank credit and is accustomed to using direct financial subsidies as part of industrial policy. However, the lack of capital elements serves as a constraint on the driving force of the development of high-tech industries.


With the gradual rise of stocks and capital markets in China, government-guided funds experiencing rapid development are serving as a significant form of patient capital in China, amplifying the role of capital elements in driving the development of high-tech industries. In China’s practice of utilizing capital and guiding the development of high-tech industries, the government plays multiple roles and follows multiple action logics. However, the effectiveness of government-guided funds in promoting the development of high-tech industries also faces multiple uncertainties, and future exploration is needed to ensure effectiveness.


Huang Dongya (黄冬娅) is Professor at the School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University;

Zhang Chenxi (张辰茜) is a PhD candidate at the School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University.

Turning Pale at the Mention of Job: A Phychological Analysis of Contemporary Youth Employment

By Cao Dongbo, Lv Xiaoning

We attempt to extract a common thread of “career development” from the dynamic thoughts and behaviors of contemporary youth. Along this main line, we explore issues and objective challenges associated with the popularization of higher education, the allocation of educational resources, and the phenomena present in the cultural circles of our country’s youth. Our goal is to uncover the driving forces behind the formation of their employment mentality.


Firstly, the popularization of higher education and the subsequent rise in employment pressure are noticeable trends. Reviewing the evolution of higher education in China, it becomes evident that, alongside a consistent rise in student enrollment, China implemented extensive expansion initiatives in response to global economic crises and unforeseen public events in 1998, 2003, 2009, and 2020, surpassing previous expectations. From an economic development perspective, the expansion of enrollment not only contributes to the cultivation of talents urgently needed for economic and social progress and addresses talent shortages, but also significantly drives the development of education-related industries.


In turn, this stimulates domestic demand, enhances the recovery of the consumer market, and fosters new points of economic growth. From the perspective of the job market, expanding enrollment can temporarily retain more students on campus, effectively postponing the entry of graduates into the job market and directly alleviating employment pressure. However, with successive rounds of expansion, the structure of the education industry has become relatively established and comprehensive and the marginal utility of further enrollment expansion in reigniting the economic engine has displayed a noticeable decreasing trend.


Secondly, the phenomenon of the “Student Generation 2.0” (compared with their parents’ “Student Generation 1.0”) and the differentiation within the youth population are noteworthy. Examining the overall pattern of higher education development in China, the majority of current college students are considered “first-generation” college students within their families. This implies that most young students have achieved upward inter-generational mobility, at least in terms of academic background. However, it is essential to note that this does not necessarily indicate the complete achievement of educational equity or an equal distribution of educational resources in China.


In the current educational landscape of China, the youth population is categorized into two groups: those who belong to the Student Generation 2.0 and those who do not. Firstly, the former benefits from access to high-quality educational resources, which inherently leads to a positive impact on their career choices. Secondly, during their “deferred employment” period, they have access to a broader range of support. Thirdly, urban youth, represented by the Student Generation 2.0, have a more progressive awareness of the “gig economy”.


Thirdly, the emergence of cultural circles and the "career freeze” phenomenon is noteworthy as well. As the most active and sizable group in the online realm, young people, in the process of shaping their exclusive cultural space, also find their values reciprocally solidified by one another. Youth in the online space are extensively “segmented” by interest circles sharing the same interests, forming cultural circles with well-defined boundaries and barriers. These cultural circles are united by common interests and connections, operate under the implicit rule of exclusivity, and utilize the full force of internet trends to express the viewpoints of their respective circles. Moving from family culture to campus culture and ultimately to societal culture, to truly become an advanced culture that wins over, influences, and shapes youth, it is imperative to refine linguistic expression and communicate in a manner that resonates with the younger generation.


The exploration and reflection on youth-related matters should remain ongoing. In the process of examining the psychological traits and cognitive patterns of the youth, it is crucial to comprehend common methodologies for youth research. At the same time, when investigating social phenomena and the historical context linked to the youth, we ought to derive distinct and tailored strategies for conducting youth research. In the end, we must ensure that no generation of youth escapes our attention.


Cao Dongbo (曹东勃) is professor at the School of Marxism, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics; Lv Xiaoning (吕小宁) is an assistant researcher at the Institute of Chinese Modernisation, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Why Enterprises Take the Initiative to Participate in Social Innovation: Taking Social Emergency Response as an Example

By Pan Tong, Fang Lijie

In the rapidly changing era of globalization and digitization, new social issues continue to emerge, challenging the adequacy of existing institutional designs and solutions. On the other hand, the progress of technology and the advancement of ideas and concepts also provide new possibilities for addressing social issues and driving social development.


The former implies that in government-initiated social agendas, the government may not always have the upper hand in providing practical and effective solutions to every problem. The latter suggests that beyond the government, enterprises possess stronger expertise and market potential in solving certain social issues. It is against this backdrop that governments are increasingly mobilizing enterprises to participate more deeply in social agendas. For example, during the precision poverty alleviation period, the “Ten Thousand Enterprises Helping Ten Thousand Villages” campaign initiated by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce saw the participation of 109,500 enterprises. Leveraging the expertise and market advantages of enterprises made the poverty alleviation process more targeted. In this process, one may observe an increasing proactiveness of enterprises in engaging with social agendas while the approaches to social responsibility also undergo change.


This article examines Tencent’s Public Emergency Response project as a case study, aiming to further explore this innovative initiative. In the field of public emergency response in China, there exist significant issues of insufficient supply and inefficient connections. Firstly, there is a limited coverage of emergency equipment, with a scarcity of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) devices in public spaces. Secondly, there is a lack of public awareness about emergency rescue procedures, coupled with a shortage of individuals willing and capable of providing first aid. Additionally, in emergency rescue scenarios, there is a consistent issue of low dispatch efficiency and inadequate connectivity between those seeking assistance and those providing it. This impedes the effective linkage of rescue equipment and personnel with those in need. Indeed, relying solely on official channels for assistance proves ineffective in meeting the daily emergency needs of the public.

It is precisely in this context that Tencent successfully identified the fundamental issues related to public emergency response and, leveraging its technological advantages, devised an innovative solution. This solution exhibits innovation on both professional and systematic levels. On a professional level, Tencent’s technological solution adopts a “ride-hailing” model for public emergency response, creating a rapid dispatch and acceptance mechanism. This approach facilitates the integration of volunteers, the emergency response system, and scattered AED devices, thereby enhancing emergency efficiency. On a systematical level, Tencent actively collaborates with various stakeholders, encouraging their connection to the system. Additionally, they contribute to AED device donations, collaborate with the Red Cross to train volunteers, disseminate first aid knowledge to improve public awareness, and encourage hospitals and local governments to pilot the platform, among other initiatives.


Through this case, we observe that initially, the socially responsible actions of enterprises extend beyond traditional passive donations of money or goods. Enterprises actively utilize their professional expertise to participate in social responsibilities. Subsequently, they spontaneously evolve from offering a single product to developing a systematic solution. Both stages are driven by the “proactiveness” of enterprises. The proactive provision of corporate solutions to address social issues aligns with both the entity’s legitimacy requirements and the commercial values of the business. The complexity of social problems determines that enterprises with expertise can play a more effective role in relevant fields.


Moreover, the systemic nature of society dictates that the effectiveness and sustainability of corporate solutions depend on a comprehensive understanding of social issues, as well as the active mobilization of the collective participation of diverse stakeholders. It is important to note that this phenomenon, while not implying that enterprises are playing a leading role in the social agenda, reflects the transformation of their current role and the on-going process of their innovative engagement in the social agenda. This provides valuable insights and experience for the concept of China’s “shared development.”

Pan Tong (潘桐) is a PhD candidate at School of Sociology and Population Studies, Renmin University of China;

Fang Lijie (房莉杰) is Professor at School of Sociology and Population Studies, Renmin University of China.

Copyright notice: This page is translated by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung from original Chinese articles abridged in Beijing Cultural Review. The original articles were published in Beijing Cultural Review, Vol. 5, 2023 (October issue). Copyright is retained by the authors. Reproduction is subject to permission from the authors, Beijing Cultural Review and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

What and how is China debating itself? “Debate Unblocked: Wenhua Zongheng” allows a glimpse into a Chinese discourse by looking at China discussing its opportunities and visions, but also failures and contradictions. The bi-monthly journal Wenhua Zongheng (Beijing Cultural Review) is one of the most important intellectual debate-journals in China in recent years, that regards itself as an explicitly socialist discourse space in search for solutions in the face of China's various modernization crises resulting from the rapid transformation. Featuring regularly articles from Wenhua Zongheng gives insight into a complex and diverse debate taking place in China.

What and how is China debating itself? “Debate Unblocked: Wenhua Zongheng” allows a glimpse into a Chinese discourse by looking at China discussing its opportunities and visions, but also failures and contradictions. The bi-monthly journal Wenhua Zongheng (Beijing Cultural Review) is one of the most important intellectual debate-journals in China in recent years, that regards itself as an explicitly socialist discourse space in search for solutions in the face of China's various modernization crises resulting from the rapid transformation. Featuring regularly articles from Wenhua Zongheng gives insight into a complex and diverse debate taking place in China.

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Wenhua Zongheng (Beijing Cultural Review) is an independent Chinese academic journal covering politics, economics and cultural reviews from intellectuals in a range of fields. It was founded in 2008. Wenhua Zongheng explores the solution to the cultural continuity crisis that has emerged along with modern China. In the past decades, Wenhua Zongheng has organised and gathered more than 1,200 scholars to engage over 200 important topics and plays a leading role in shaping the contemporary global conversation around Chinese social discourse and values.


Wenhua Zongheng

Longway Foundation


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