Watershed - What is the structure and objectives of the Center of Brazilian studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences?
Zhou Zhiwei - The Center of Brazilian Studies (CEB), established in May of 2009, when President Lula visited China, is an important think-tank in China on Brazil. As President Lula wrote to the Center “undoubtedly, Brazil and China are writing a new page in the history of humanity”. The foundation of the CEB reflects the rapid development of Sino-Brazilian relations. As such, the missions of the CEB are as follows: promote research in China on Brazil; promote interchange with Brazilians; supply advice to Chinese companies that plan on investing in Brazil.The CEB is led by the ex-Chinese Ambassador in Brazil Chen Duqing (2006-2009) as Director General; the Vice-Director General of the Institute of Latin America, professor Wu Baiyi, takes executive responsability for the CEB; professors He Shuangrong and Zhou Zhiwei work in the CEB as Vice-Director and Secretary General, respectively. Apart from that, there is also a Council in the CEB in which some Chinese companies are inserted. As a member of the Council, the companies could request consultations from the CEB and also obtain some special research, like the Bulletin of Investment in Brazil; the Report on the Risk of Investment in Brazil; the Report of Social and Economic development in Brazil. Thus Chinese companies could better know Brazil by way of that research by the CEB.
WS - What are the requirements and possibilities for Brazilian students to study in China – undergraduate, masters and doctorate?
ZZ - In fact, we do not yet have many Brazilian pupils studying in China, but I believe that China will be a more and more attractive destination for Brazilian pupils studying abroad, since the importance of China for the world and Brazil is becoming greater than before. For the pupils wanting to study in China, I think that they must get to know the system of higher education, know which are the universities that could receive foreign students, know the special rules for foreign students. Apart from that, if they have learned Mandarin for some time, it would be easier for them to adapt at the beginning of their arrival in China. For masters and doctorates, in my opinion, it is very important that the foreign students make contact with the tutor beforehand, if the Chinese professors want to tutor, it would be easier for foreign students to request the visa for China.
WS - You studied for 6 months in Brazil at the University of São Paulo. How was this experience in professional and personal terms?
ZZ - In fact, I stayed in Brazil for 10 months, I was a visiting researcher in the Institute of International Relations of USP. This experience is always valuable in my professional and personal life. Firstly, I took advantage of this chance to know Brazil much better than before, that would be very helpful for my future research; secondly, I made friendships with some professors and Brazilian students, we frequently discuss some themes that interest us; thirdly, I learned Portuguese during my stay in Brazil that is very important for my profession.
WS - The study of Portuguese in China has been rising sharply. What most attracts Chinese pupils?
ZZ - What most attracts Chinese students is getting the chance to obtain a job. In comparison with other foreign languages such as English, French, German, here in China, Portuguese is not yet a language that Chinese pupils have chosen to study. But with the rapid development of relations between China and Portuguese speaking countries, governmental organizations and companies need people who can use Portuguese and this is why the study of Portuguese has been rising sharply.
WS - What is the outlook of the Chinese government for Sino-Brazilian relations in Dilma Roussef`s government?
ZZ - In my opinion, the Chinese government expects that Sino-Brazilian relations in Dilma Roussef´s government may develop at the same rhythm as that of Lula´s government, keeping the same close economic links, reinforcing cooperation in international affairs.
WS - How does China analyze the growing partnership between the USA and India?
ZZ - The growing partnership between the USA and India reflects the common interests of the two countries in Asia and especially reflects the need of the USA in international strategy, in which restricting the influence of China in Asia is the most important point. But there are also some divergences between the USA and India, for example, India has always had an attitude of suspicion toward the intention of the strategy of the USA in South Asia. I think that the USA and India are partners but far from alliances.
WS - China-Japan relations are essential for security and world growth. How can they be improved?
ZZ - In Sino-Japanese relations there is a phenomenon that economic relations develop quickly and at the same time political relations are improving slowly. Without doubt, Sino-Japanese relations are very complicated, the two countries are neighbors but also are in second and third place in the world economy; it is clear that there is competivity between the two countries in many areas. From my viewpoint, the most important obstacle is that Japan has never looked inward on the history of invading China in the Second World War, that is a key area in the lack of mutual confidence between China and Japan.
WS - How should the international community deal with a nuclear Iran?
ZZ - The ideal solution would be through negotiation or dialogue, sanctions could complicate the situation and push it more and more towards war. The nuclear question of Iran is very complicated in which many countries are involved; each country has a different attitude in the matter, so all the participants of this issue have to be more patient.
WS - Can the Taliban be a future threat to Xinjiang?
ZZ - In my opinion, the Taliban is a factor related to the stability of Xinjiang. To resolve the problem of Xinjiang, I think economic and social development of Xinjiang would be a key point in the solution of this problem.
WS - Is the Chinese government aware that environmental chaos can generate social chaos?
ZZ - In fact, the government emphasizes more and more the environment, this has become a priority in plans recently prepared by the Chinese government. For example the central Chinese government emphasized that all local governments must define their own emission targets.
WS - What type of investments is being made to generate development in the provinces of central west China?
ZZ - The areas that are attracting most investment are as follows: labor intensive industry like textiles, clothing, toys, electro domestics, energy and mineral transformation; industry for transformation of agricultural products; equipment manufacture; high technology industry. Presently, the provinces of the central west are planning to construct a Region of the Western Delta (Chongqing- Chengdu-Xi’an), performing as the fourth growing pole of the Chinese economy, with a role equal to the other 3 poles such as the Delta of Yangtze River, Delta of the Pearl River and the Region of the Circle of the Bohai Sea.
WS - China took millions of people out of poverty. How can they guarantee a health system for all of them?
ZZ - The Chinese population is more than 1.3 billion, so the reform of the Chinese health system would be the most difficult task in the world. Presently, the Chinese government is experimenting with some reforms in some cities. But the most difficult part of the health reform is in the countryside, we can say that China has achieved success in the reform of the health area only when the government truly resolves the health problem of more than 800 million peasants.
WS - As it gets richer, has the urban middle class left behind values like family and friendship?
ZZ - I do not agree with this, I think that the majority of the Chinese always places family and friendship ahead of others, since Chinese culture very much values family and friendship, those are also the roots of Chinese values.
Interview by Marcos Guedes Pereira