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Lula in China full of air

Paulo Rego*

Lula da Silva does not travel to Beijing on a mere courtesy visit. Brazil and China play big in the post-Covid economy, and are preparing to sign at least 20 more cooperation agreements. This time, with special emphasis on the carbon credits market. From an economic point of view, but also from a geopolitical point of view, this trip is crucial to revitalize Sino-Lusophone bridges.

As it is an opportunity to affirm Brazilian diplomacy, which is now trying to get out of the penumbra in which it lived during the mandate of Jair Bolsonaro. But Chinese diplomacy also needs these moments to make up for lost time. First with the pandemic crisis; then with the west/east cleavage, after Russia invaded Ukraine.

There is a first disappointment in this trip, already accepted by the Brazilians, even before arriving in Beijing. During the preparatory contacts for the visit, Lula da Silva did everything to include in the conversation with Xi Jinping a reflection on the possibility of peace in Ukraine.

However, he was denied. In this context, Beijing does not want the topic. The desire for a joint declaration in favor of peace remains… but without space on the official agenda, much less the will to bring Lula in as a partner in this debate. Interestingly, it is precisely in the context of the war in Ukraine that Lula’s visit has particular significance at this point. On the eve of Xi Jinping’s enthronement, Lula’s praise for the leader of the Chinese Communist Party was already very clear. And more obvious they become on this trip to Beijing. Washington forces the narrative according to which Russia is not leaving Ukraine only because it has the support of China. This thesis, strictly speaking, hides many of the other points that would have to be resolved to end the war. In any case, Lula da Silva is now one of the stars of international politics closest to Xi, loudly rejecting US pressure to turn his back on China. And that counts. Not only because of Brazil’s economic and political dimension, but also because of the added value that China’s friendship ties with the greatest power in South America – and putative candidate for the United Nations Security Council, currently have.

Since 2009, China has been Brazil’s biggest trading partner, having imported US$90 billion in commodities last year alone. On the other hand, Brazil is one of the biggest targets of Chinese investment worldwide. Brazil is already big. And it will be even bigger. Lula da Silva seems to have discovered a new gold mine in the meantime.

Thanks to the Amazon rainforest, Brazil controls about 15% of the atmospheric carbon sequestration potential. Phenomenon, this one, that allows you to sell credits for carbon emissions. Large producing and manufacturing countries, such as China, devour all available credits in the market of nations to give gas to intensive production models. China continues to function at two speeds. Has plans to master sustainable economics; but it is still today the most polluting economy in the world… As for Brazil, which is also full of contradictions, in this field it is already better installed in the future.

For Macau all this is good. Not because Beijing’s relationship with Brasilia passes through Macau. But because the future of Macau depends on this relationship between China and Lusophony.

*Director General of PLATAFORMA

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Generalist media, focusing on the relationship between Portuguese-speaking countries and China.


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