BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping was due to meet visiting Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Friday in Beijing as the leaders seek to boost ties between two of the world’s largest developing nations.
The meeting comes on the second day of Lula’s visit to his country’s most important trading partner and ally in his bid to challenge Western-dominated economic institutions.
The visit included the swearing in on Thursday of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as head of the Chinese-backed New Development Bank, which is funding infrastructure projects in Brazil and elsewhere in the developing world.
That NDB portrays itself as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which often impose loan conditions that developing nations criticize as punitive.
The Brazilian government says the sides are expected to sign at least 20 bilateral agreements, underscoring the improvement in relations since Lula took over from predecessor Jair Bolsonaro in January.
China is Brazil’s biggest export market, each year buying tens of billions of dollars worth of soybeans, beef, iron ore, poultry, pulp, sugar cane, cotton and crude oil. Brazil is the biggest recipient of Chinese investment in Latin America, according to Chinese state media, although Lula has spoken against outright Chinese ownership of Brazilian companies.
Lula's China visit follows trips to Argentina and Uruguay in January and to the U.S. in February, signaling the importance he places on international affairs in contrast to Bolsonaro.
A key piece of Lula’s outreach abroad is his proposal that Brazil and other developing countries, including China, mediate peace over Ukraine. However, his suggestion that Ukraine cede Crimea as a means to forge peace has angered Kyiv and its closest backers.
China has also sought to play a role in ending the conflict, though in a manner highly supportive of Moscow. It has refused to condemn the invasion, criticized economic sanctions on Russia and accused the U.S. and NATO of provoking the conflict.
Russia and China declared a “no limits” relationship in a 2022 joint statement and Xi reaffirmed the closeness of ties in March by meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
A Chinese peace proposal presented in February contains aspects in common with Lula’s, such as ceasing hostilities and starting negotiations, but says nothing about the return of Ukrainian territory seized by Russia and its separatist allies.