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Brazilian President Lula Trip to China Postponed, Due to Pneumonia

March 25, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva planned to discuss his “Peace Club” proposal to mediate an end to the war in Ukraine when he met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing March 28, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira told the Financial Times in an interview March 24. “We are very interested in promoting or helping generate some kind of meeting that would lead to a peace process,” Vieira said. “The President has said so many times he hears a lot about war but very few words about peace. He is interested in peace conversations.”

A Brazilian government spokesman announced on Saturday, March 25, that, after a medical examination, it was found that Lula had a viral as well as a bacterial infection, and that doctors recommended the 77-year-old President stay put for the seven days he will be contagious. The trip will be rescheduled, official sources reported midday on March 25, and that communication to that effect has already occurred with the Chinese government. Some of the parallel meetings scheduled with businessmen and other officials will be canceled, and some will go ahead, but the details are still being worked out. Most of Lula’s cabinet and Congressional leaders who were to go on the trip are canceling, but 100 businessmen and diplomats and officials sent in advance are already in China, and two directors of the National Social and Economic Development Bank (BNDES) reportedly will go as planned to China.

But the big discussions and agreements will now be on hold until Lula himself can travel. On Feb. 24, Lula said he would promote the idea of a group of mediating countries to bring peace to Ukraine, stating, “My suggestion is that we create a group of countries that try to sit at the table with Ukraine and Russia to try to find peace.” Chinese President Xi Jinping has also put forth a 12-point peace proposal,  “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.”  London and Washington establishment voices are not happy about Lula’s peace initiative. Brazil is not “seen by many as a neutral arbiter given ... its membership in the BRICS,” groused Ryan Berg, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The subject of the BRICS and its coming expansion will also be on the agenda of Lula and Xi when they meet. Both countries are founding members of the BRICS grouping. Lula had also been scheduled to attend the swearing-in of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as head of the BRICS New Development Bank in Shanghai on March 27. The NDB was set up by the BRICS in 2014, for infrastructure and other real economy lending, but its activities since then have not lived up to original expectations. However, it has significant potential, especially as the BRICS expands to the BRICS-Plus, and along with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, it has been involved in discussions about planning for a potential new world credit and financial system to bypass dollar-centered financial speculation, and focus instead on real economic development.

There is also an important bilateral economic agenda between the two countries. China is Brazil’s largest trading partner. In 2021, Brazil sent 31.3% of its exports to China (Brazil only sent 11.2% of its exports to the United States). Plus, China shipped goods that accounted for 22.8% of Brazil’s imports.

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