Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is heading to China on a state visit this week, with talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping expected to focus largely on trade, as well as the war in Ukraine.
The 77-year-old Lula had originally planned to visit Beijing last month, but was hospitalized with a bout of pneumonia. On Monday, his office announced that the trip was back on, with Brazil’s goal “to relaunch its relations with the country that has been its main trading partner since 2009.”
The Brazilian delegation arriving in China with Lula on Wednesday includes businessmen, state governors, congressmen and ministers, who seek to sign over 20 bilateral agreements with China on agriculture, livestock, tech, travel and tourism, among others.
Government figures show that China imported the equivalent of over US$89.7 billion in Brazilian products last year, and exported almost US$60.7 billion to Brazil, setting the trade value between the two countries at US$150.4 billion.
According to the Brazilian presidency, trade between the two countries has “increased 21 times since Lula’s first visit to China in 2004.” Lula previously served two terms as Brazilian president, and has already made two official visits to the country.
Among the dozens of accords expected to be finalized during the visit is one regarding the joint Brazilian-Chinese construction of CBERS-6 satellites, a model that “has improved technology that allows for efficient monitoring of biomes such as the Amazon Rainforest even on cloudy days,” according to a handout from the Brazilian government published Monday.
While in China, Lula will also attend former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s inauguration in Shanghai as head of BRICS’s New Development Bank, a commercial bloc formed by the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Xi and Lula are also expected to discuss the war in Ukraine, with both leaders having previously positioned their countries as potential mediators for the conflict.
Like many leaders in middle income and developing countries, Lula has adopted a policy of non-intervention over the war in Ukraine, rebuffing efforts led by US President Joe Biden to unite the global community in opposition to Russia’s invasion.
In a February interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Lula – who in his previous term played an important role during nuclear discussions between the US and Iran – predicted that he would “talk a lot with President Xi Jinping about the role that China has to play on the peace issues (in Ukraine).
“This is my work. This is the work that I have to do. I started with the German Chancellor (Olaf Scholz). I talked with (French President Emmanuel) Macron on the phone. I’ll talk with President Biden now. I’ll talk to Xi Jinping, with the Indians, with the – with all the countries. We have to have a group of people and countries that talk about peace.”
Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira hinted at hopes for a potential consensus among some countries emerging from Lula’s trip, AFP reported earlier this week.
“By the time Lula returns home, a group of mediator countries will have been created,” Vieira reportedly said.
His visit to China comes amid wider efforts to booster Brazil’s international relations, including a recent trip to Argentina for a meeting of CELAC – a bloc of Latin American and Caribbean states – that also included a delegation from the United States.
The trip will “usher in a new era and a new future for China-Brazil relations,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said.
After his visit to China, Lula is scheduled to go to the United Arab Emirates for a state visit as well.
Reporting contributed by Julia Vargas Jones in Sao Paulo.