China-Brazil Cooperation Will Open a New Chapter


Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to visit China in late March. Unexpectedly a case of pneumonia – albeit, a mild one – forced the South American leader to postpone the visit. According to the Guardian, Lula will visit Shanghai on April 12 alongside a stacked delegation of over 200 lawmakers and business leaders. They’ll be received by Chinese Premier Li Qiang. The team shall then proceed to Beijing, where Lula will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 14 – the trip’s final day.

The Brazilian delegation’s China visit marks an important step toward increased friendliness between the two nations. China-Brazil economic and trade ties saw a deeper and wider potential for growth in 2009 with the creation of BRICS. In that same year, China surpassed the United States to officially become Brazil’s largest trading partner. It has held that esteemed position ever since.

Under Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, relations with China cooled considerably. Bolsonaro closely aligned himself with former U.S. President Donald Trump, whose hostility toward China needs no explanation.

Since taking office on January 1, 2023, Lula has worked diligently to undo the damage done by his predecessor. Under the current administration, Brazil has displayed increased openness to trade with China, accepting settlements and investment in China’s yuan. As a result, Brazil now holds more asset value in the Chinese currency than the euro.

In addition to economic matters, Lula’s administration has also been collaborating with China in the field of diplomacy.

American officials may be dismayed by this increased cooperation because Brazil isn’t simply moving toward China. It is also moving away from the United States.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves as he arrives for a ministerial meeting to review the first 100 days of his government at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, April 10, 2023. /Xinhua

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves as he arrives for a ministerial meeting to review the first 100 days of his government at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, April 10, 2023. /Xinhua

In February, Lula visited Washington only to find himself disappointed by the administration. Among other things, the Brazilian president felt they didn’t offer enough funds to help combat Bolsonaro’s deforestation of the Amazon. This pushed Lula to later meet with congressional progressives including Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – a more receptive audience.

While the United States keeps disappointing Lula, China is proving to be a more dependable friend. Historically, the Americans have been taking their alliance with Brazil for granted. In their minds, as dictated by the Monroe Doctrine, South America is the United States’ “backyard.” This mindset breeds complacency. It assumes the United States doesn’t need to do anything for their hemispheric allies to keep them close.

China’s attitude toward international relations is remarkably different. As evidenced by the Belt and Road Initiative, China is committed to deepening and expanding global partnerships based on converging interests. Contrary to the American model, mutual benefits here replace bullying and intimidation.

Lula clearly prefers this alternative approach. Whereas his trip to the United States was terse, a visit to China will be a far more elaborate affair. Lula attaches much greater political importance to the latter because he knows that President Xi is way more receptive to his concerns.

Since Lula took office, the Chinese leader has shown his willingness to help rebuild Brazil after Bolsonaro’s destructive reign. The Americans did not express even nearly equal willingness. Lula’s decision to turn to China most likely to deliver on his objectives is a logical one, driven by practical considerations.

A large bloc of developing countries now sees China as a more reliable friend than the United States. Importantly, China has not achieved that position through the historically common means of brute force. Rather, they have done so via peaceful collaboration to promote joint interests. China ensures that the cooperation of as many nations as possible on these terms is the key to building a more stable and fair world order.

Source: cgtn