'Brazil is back!' Lula says during state visit to China

The veteran leftist, who arrived in Shanghai on April 12 night, is seeking to reposition Brazil as a key global player after four years of relative isolation under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro

Published - April 13, 2023 09:11 pm IST - Shanghai

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva participated in the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff as president of the New Development Bank of the BRICS and visited the Huawei factory. Photo: Twitter/@LulaOficial

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva participated in the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff as president of the New Development Bank of the BRICS and visited the Huawei factory. Photo: Twitter/@LulaOficial

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised on April 13 that "Brazil is back!" during a state visit to China aimed at strengthening trade ties and winning support for his push for peace in Ukraine.

The veteran leftist, who arrived in Shanghai on April 12 night, is seeking to reposition Brazil as a key global player after four years of relative isolation under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

"The time when Brazil was absent from major world decisions is in the past," Mr. Lula said at a ceremony to inaugurate his political ally Dilma Rousseff as president of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB).

"We are back on the international stage, after an inexplicable absence."

Mr. Lula will spend April 12 in Shanghai before heading to the Chinese capital to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping, with whom he is expected to discuss the Ukraine war on April 14.

Both China and Brazil have positioned themselves as mediators in the conflict, despite Western concerns that they are overly cosy with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Shanghai leg of Mr. Lula's trip has highlighted another key goal of the visit — to deepen economic links between the two countries.

China is Brazil's biggest export market, buying tens of billions of dollars worth of soybeans, beef and iron ore.

Ms. Rousseff, a former leader of Brazil, will head the NDB, a multilateral lender jointly set up by Brazil, China, Russia, India, and South Africa, until 2025.

After the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Lula visited a research centre run by Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Video on the official Brazilian presidential Twitter account showed Mr. Lula being greeted by musicians in traditional dress playing classical Chinese instruments.

Huawei's chair then walked him through an exhibition showcasing the company's extensive presence in Brazil — a contrast with the U.S., where companies are effectively barred from doing business with the firm.

Mr. Lula later tweeted that he had been given a presentation on 5G and solutions in telemedicine, education and connectivity, describing it as "a very strong investment in research and education".

He was also set to meet the head of China's biggest electric carmaker BYD, which said in October that it planned to set up a vehicle manufacturing plant in northern Brazil's Bahia after Ford Motors closed its factory there.

The company is already making electric buses and cars in Brazil for the Latin American market.

Back in office from January after having led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, Mr. Lula is seeking to smooth relations with China, after ties deteriorated under Mr. Bolsonaro.

He was initially scheduled to make the trip in late March but had to postpone it after coming down with pneumonia.

About 40 high-level officials are accompanying him on the rescheduled visit, including Cabinet Ministers, Governors and members of Congress.

In a delicate balancing act, he is also seeking closer ties with the U.S., Brazil's second-biggest trading partner.

His visit with Mr. Xi comes after a high-profile White House meeting with President Joe Biden in February.

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