Brazil President Visits Beijing to Shore Up China Relations

Brazil President Visits Beijing to Shore Up China Relations
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil receives the Chinese Ambassador to Brazil, Zhu Qingqiao, at Planalto Palace (Ricardo Stuckert)

The Lede: The President of Brazil will make a visit along with powerful figures in his country’s political, industrial, and agribusiness sectors to meet with China’s leader in Beijing.

What We Know:

  • Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing between March 26 and March 31 after his trips to the U.S. and Argentina.
  • Lula has expressed disappointment with the U.S. visit, especially by the level of funds offered to help combat Amazon deforestation and the lack of U.S support for his offer to help broker peace in the Russian War in Ukraine.

The Background: Lula is making high-profile foreign visits after his election in an effort to repair Brazil’s overseas reputation after the administration of Jair Bolsonaro, who carried forth antagonistic and isolationist policies. Significant Chinese investment and imports of Brazilian products including soybean products, iron and its derivatives, oil products, and beef helped President Lula pay for his transformative social programs in his past terms in the early 2000s.

Likely Outcomes:

  • The visit will strengthen Brazil’s ties to China through which future cooperation is likely to increase. Without significant disagreements between the two countries, there will be many areas of mutual benefit that the countries will pursue. China’s recent lifting of a ban on Brazilian beef imports has been seen as a step forward for their economic relations.
  • Brazil’s visit to the U.S. highlighted the frustrations and disagreements that exist between the Lula and Biden administrations. The high level of agreement between China and Brazil may incentivize the U.S. to make concessions for the sake of Brazil in the future. Brazil will likely play both sides for its own benefit while refraining from making definite moves toward one or the other in the short term.


“They are useful to one another. In Lula’s case, it helps [send a message] to a domestic audience, to other South American countries and the United States that Brazil is back. And from Xi Jinping’s point of view it also shows that even in a region like Latin America that was traditionally one of US influence, China has leverage.” – Matias Spektor, International Relations Professor at Princeton University

“So this will be [viewed as] a bit of a homecoming … and an effort to demonstrate that this relationship is not only alive and well but thriving … He will be met with a lot of excitement.” - Margaret Myers, Specialist in China-Latin America relations at the Wilson Center

Good Reads:

‘Brazil is back’: Lula to visit Xi as he resets diplomatic relations with China (The Guardian)

China lifts Brazilian beef import ban ahead of Lula’s visit (Al Jazeera)

Brazil's bolsa familia scheme marks a decade of pioneering poverty relief (The Guardian)