China’s Xi meets Brazil’s Lula in Beijing

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping was due to meet Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Beijing on Friday, as leaders seek to strengthen ties between two of the world’s largest developing countries.

The meeting comes on the second day of Lula’s visit to his country’s key trading partner and ally in his attempt to challenge Western-dominated economic institutions.

The visit included Thursday’s swearing-in of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as head of the China-backed New Development Bank, which finances infrastructure projects in Brazil and other developing countries.

This FIS presents itself as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which often impose credit terms that developing countries criticize as punishment.

Brazil’s government says the sides are expected to sign at least 20 bilateral deals, underscoring the improvement in ties since Lula took over from predecessor Jair Bolsonaro in January.

Political cartoons

China is Brazil’s largest export market, buying tens of billions of dollars worth of soybeans, beef, iron ore, poultry, pulp, sugarcane, cotton and crude oil every year. According to Chinese state media, Brazil is the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Latin America, although Lula has opposed direct Chinese ownership of Brazilian companies.

Lula’s visit to China follows trips to Argentina and Uruguay in January and the US in February, signaling the importance he, unlike Bolsonaro, places on international affairs.

A key element of Lula’s involvement abroad is his suggestion that Brazil and other developing countries, including China, mediate peace through Ukraine. However, his suggestion that Ukraine should cede Crimea as a means of peacemaking has angered Kyiv and its closest supporters.

China has also tried to play a role in ending the conflict, albeit in a way that Moscow strongly supports. She refused to condemn the invasion, criticized economic sanctions against Russia and accused the US and NATO of provoking the conflict.

A Chinese peace proposal presented in February shares common ground with Lula’s, such as ending hostilities and opening negotiations, but says nothing about returning Ukrainian territory seized by Russia and its separatist allies.

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