The second time is the charm. The Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvaarrived in Beijing on Tuesday to begin his long-awaited official visit to China, in which he will pose with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinpingan international mediation to end the Ukrainian war.
Lula, 77, had scheduled this trip between March 25 and 30, and for this reason he did not attend the Ibero-American Summit in the Dominican Republic, but an untimely pneumonia forced him to postpone a trip that Brazilian diplomacy has made an effort to present as the staging of the return of the South American giant to the global scene after the years of isolation of the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.
At the center of the agenda will be the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Beijing has become in recent weeks the focus of a great diplomatic activity at the highest level looking for a way out of the war. The Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, and the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron have passed through there. Now it is Lula’s turn, who arrives with his own proposal, explained on the eve of the trip by his Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira.
Vieira assured that Lula would discuss with Xi his idea of a multi-country mediation, in which Brazil would play an active role, to put out the ukrainian fire. The minister promised that by the time Lula returns to Brasilia, the group of countries that would participate in the mediation would be ready.
Lula thus seeks to return Brazil to the high international profile it had during his first term, in which his country acted as the most active South American diplomatic agent and actively participated in the negotiations that led to an international agreement led by the United States for the control of the Iranian nuclear program.
However, the Brazilian position regarding Ukraine has not been without controversy. Lula was criticized when He declared that the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelensky, was “as responsible” for the war as the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.. Also, when in a questioned exercise of equidistance, he declared that Putin “cannot keep the Ukrainian territory”, but at the same time that Zelensky “cannot want everything”.
Although what caused real outrage in kyiv were his comments suggesting that Ukraine should give up his aspiration to recapture Crimeathe peninsula forcibly annexed by Russia in 2014.
“There is no legal, political or moral reason why Ukraine should cede even an inch of its land,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Oleg Nikolenko replied.
Positions such as the one outlined by Lula are very well received in Beijing, immersed in a diplomatic effort to present an alternative leadership to that of the United States and seek a way out of the conflict that would dissatisfy its Russian ally.
Xi presented during his visit to Moscow a 12-point peace proposal for Ukraine and he is naturally eager to find support for his theses on the need to build a new multipolar order in which the United States and the West do not have the upper hand.
Beijing already scored a point in this regard a few weeks ago, when it mediated between Saudi Arabia and Iran and managed to get both to reestablish their diplomatic relations after broken years.
The one in China will be Lula’s third trip abroad since he regained the presidency on January 1. He previously visited neighboring Argentina and the United States.
The other axis of the visit will be trade. Lula is determined to relaunch the role of Brazil as an economic actor and regional politician. Brazil is South America’s biggest market and has been the biggest recipient of huge Chinese investment in the region for years.
Lula wants to maintain this preferential relationship at a time when the Chinese economy seems to be undergoing a transformation with consequences that are difficult to predict.
Beijing is interested in continuing to introduce its wedge against the United States in the former Latin American backyard and a few weeks ago it organized a forum for Brazilian businessmen from which an initiative emerged for trade between China and Brazil to have the real and the yuan as currencies of use. instead of the dollar.
The commercial aspect of Lula’s trip will also be evident with his stop in Shanghai where he will presumably meet with his ally Dilma Rousseffwho succeeded him as president in 2011, and has just made his debut as head of the New Development Bank, the entity in charge of promoting investment in the bloc formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, also known as BRICS.