Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Lula pledges to partner with China to balance global geopolitics


Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he wanted to work with Beijing to “balance global geopolitics” as he wrapped up a three-day visit to China aimed at deepening ties between the two countries.

said Lula, who since returning to office for a third term in January has sought to reaffirm Brazil’s role on the international stage.

In particular, the 77-year-old has championed the creation of a multipolar world and the revival of multilateral organizations – topics close to the heart of Beijing’s international diplomacy.

Bola is warmly welcomed in China, where he is greeted by cheerful children dancing to the Brazilian song Novo Tempo Chinese President Xi Jinping praised him as his “good old friend”. The two sides have signed more than a dozen agreements – worth $10 billion – in areas ranging from investment in infrastructure to building satellites and facilitating trade.

Brazil and China are members of BRICS, a grouping of developing countries including India, Russia and South Africa that Lula has sought to revitalize since returning to office.

During a speech in Shanghai on Thursday, he called on the group to create an alternative currency to the dollar for use in trade between them.

“Every night I ask myself why all countries should base their trade on the dollar,” Lula said, to the astonishment of Washington policymakers.

The Brazilian leader made another note of Washington’s defiance in another speech delivered alongside Xi, during which Lula noted that he had visited Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, which is under US sanctions.

“Yesterday we visited Huawei, which is proof that we want to tell the world that we have no bias in our relationship with the Chinese, and that no one will prevent Brazil from improving its relationship with China,” Lula said.

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During a previous meeting with Zhao Lijie, head of the country’s rubber-seal parliament and third-ranking Communist Party official, Lula reaffirmed his ambition to rebalance the global system.

“Our interests in the relationship with China are not only commercial. We have political interests and we have interests in building a new geopolitical policy to change global governance by giving more representation to the United Nations,” Lula said.

The focus on multilateralism is a marked departure from the approach taken by his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who prioritized bilateral relations with the United States under former President Donald Trump and other countries led by populist leaders such as Hungary and Israel.

“It’s global foreign policy,” Mauro Vieira, Brazil’s foreign minister, told the Financial Times last month.

Before his visit to Beijing, Lula said he would discuss with Xi the creation of a “peace club” of countries to mediate an end to the conflict in Ukraine.

In a joint statement on Friday, the two countries stressed that the only way out of the Ukraine conflict is through negotiations. But while the letter on Ukraine reflected some of China’s points, it did not fully reflect Beijing’s position paper on the conflict, which has been criticized by the West as pro-Russian.

Saturday morning, in brief remarks to the media, Lula reiterated the idea he had expressed earlier of creating a club of like-minded nations not involved in the war to discuss peace, with China potentially playing a role. He also called on the United States to stop “stimulating” the war.

Another important country is the United States. That is, the United States needs to stop motivating war and start talking about peace.” He added that Europe also needs to talk about peace so that Russia and Ukraine gradually begin to see that the whole world wants an end to the war.

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Lula believes that Brazil has something to contribute, especially when it comes to the Russian-Ukrainian war. Many people understand this as naive [but] “Lula understands that China is a major player in trying to put pressure on Russia,” said Philip Loureiro, a professor of international relations at the University of Sao Paulo.

The difficulty is that China has a clear pro-Russian position, although it considers itself a neutral country.

At a news conference at the Brazilian embassy late on Friday, Finance Minister Fernando Haddad defended the country’s overtures to China, saying they were not intended to alienate the United States.

“Country [Brazil] Haddad told reporters. “Brazil has the scale to partner with these big blocs and with other countries in bilateral agreements. It doesn’t make sense to have to make the choice that if you get close to one, you have to distance yourself from the other.”