During a state visit to China on Thursday, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared, “Brazil is back!”
After four years of near isolation under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, the experienced socialist landed in Shanghai on Wednesday night. Hoping to rebuild Brazil as a significant global actor.
“The time when Brazil was absent from major world decisions is over,” Lula states. Attending the inauguration of his political ally Dilma Rousseff as president of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB).
“After an inexplicable absence, we are back on the international stage.”
Lula will spend Thursday in Shanghai before travelling to Beijing to meet with his colleague, Xi Jinping. With whom he is scheduled to discuss the Ukraine conflict on Friday.
Despite Western concerns that China and Brazil are too friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, both have positioned themselves as crisis mediators.
The Shanghai segment of Lula’s tour underlined another important purpose of the visit: strengthening business ties between the two countries.
China is Brazil’s most important export market, purchasing tens of billions of dollars in soybeans, cattle, and iron ore.
Rousseff, a former Brazilian president, will oversee the NDB, a multilateral lender established jointly by Brazil, China, Russia, India, and South Africa, until 2025.
Lula went to a research centre run by Chinese telecom giant Huawei after her inauguration ceremony.
On the official Brazilian presidential Twitter account, a video showed Lula being met by musicians dressed in traditional Chinese attire and playing classical Chinese instruments.
The chairman of Huawei then took him on a tour of an exhibition highlighting the company’s significant presence in Brazil. In contrast to the United States, where companies are virtually forbidden from doing business with the corporation.
Lula was also scheduled to meet with the CEO of BYD, China’s largest electronic carmaker. Which said in October that it planned to establish a vehicle manufacturing unit in northern Brazil’s Bahia after Ford Motors closed its operation there.
In Brazil, the company already manufactures electric buses and vehicles for the Latin American market.
Repairing old ties
Lula, who took office in January after leading Brazil from 2003 to 2010, is attempting to repair ties with China, which had deteriorated under Bolsonaro.
He was supposed to make the trip in late March, but he had to cancel after contracting pneumonia.
Around 40 high-level officials, including cabinet ministers, governors, and members of Congress, will accompany him on the rescheduled visit.
He is also seeking better ties with the United States, Brazil’s second-largest commercial partner, in a delicate balancing act.
His encounter with Xi follows a high-profile meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in February.