All Eyes On Ukraine-Related Talk As Lula Arrives In China, But Trade To Dominate

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has arrived in China Wednesday where he’s expected to meet with President Xi Jinping and join Beijing’s to push for peace in Ukraine, which Washington officials have dismissed as an insincere and empty ploy (that is, Xi’s 12-point peace plan), given Russia and China’s political closeness of late.

Brazil is China’s biggest trading partner, thus it could prove Lula’s most consequential foreign trip of his presidency. The two leaders are expected to sign at least 20 bilateral agreements during Lula’s two-day stay – a trip that will also be watched closely in the West.

“Lula wants Brazil, China and other nations to help mediate the war as part of his nation’s return to the world stage, but his proposals to end the conflict have irked Ukraine and some in the West,” AP observes. “Less controversial is the Brazilian and Chinese mutual interest in trade after a rocky period under Lula’s predecessor.”

“I want the Chinese to understand that their investment here will be wonderfully welcome, but not to buy our companies. To build new things, which we need,” Lula told Brazilian journalists days ahead of the trip. Brazil each year ships tens of billions of dollars worth of soybeans, poultry, sugar cane, beef, iron ore, pulp, cotton and crude oil to China.

But more closely watched on a global level will be any statement put out related to the war in Ukraine, given that both China and Brazil alongside Russia are BRICS members, aimed at pushing back against the U.S.-dominated system of how global affairs are managed.

But there are signs that Ukraine won’t be center state during talks, as CNN quotes one regional analyst to say

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated much diplomatic conversation in Europe and in Washington, Lula’s official schedule doesn’t mention it, despite previous vows to discuss peacemaking strategies with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“From what I heard, removing Ukraine from the list of things that they’re going to discuss was a demand from the Chinese government,” says Igor Patrick, a research scholar at the Kissinger Institute on China at the Wilson Centre.

“There’s still some interest from the Brazilian part to raise the issue and to discuss ideas, and they hope to release a joint statement where they mention the Ukrainian conflict, calls for a peaceful solution and mediated diplomatically, but it’s not officially on the program and to a large extent that was expectable,” Patrick told CNN.

Brazil is among BRICS countries that while friendly to the US has refused to bow to Washington pressure to provide arms or defensive aid to Ukraine.

Lula’s plane touched down in Shanghai Wednesday night, with the state visit slated to run to April 15.


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