Published: 17:06, May 4, 2023 | Updated: 16:26, May 5, 2023
New era for Sino-Brazilian ties
By Maiara Folly and Joao Cumaru

Lula visit signifies strengthening of strategic partnership that could lead global fight on green issues 

It was fitting that Brazilian musician Ivan Lins’ song Um Novo Tempo (A New Era) played as President Lula arrived at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People for his meeting with President Xi Jinping on April 14. 

The state visit to China represented the highest point of Brazilian foreign policy this year, elevating the bilateral relationship to a new level of cooperation after four years of strained relations under former President Jair Bolsonaro.

The visit yielded 35 agreements, which marked the strengthening and diversification of the partnership between the two countries beyond the area of investments to facilitate Brazil’s exports of agricultural commodities to China. 

The scope of the deals is extensive, covering a wide range of areas such as the use of local currencies in commercial transactions, low-carbon agriculture, climate change, energy transition and infrastructure projects. 

Notably, five Brazilian state governors joined the presidential delegation, underscoring a growing interest from subnational actors to attract investments and pursue partnerships with China.

The visit also provided an opportunity to strengthen cooperation in tackling common challenges, such as the fight against poverty and the promotion of food security, which are of paramount importance to both nations. Additionally, it indicated the potential for China to become a vital partner in Brazil’s efforts to re-industrialize its economy. 

To achieve this, Brazil should strive for even greater collaboration in research and development and explore additional avenues to benefit from technology transfer, particularly in sectors of growing strategic relevance such as digital economy, 5G connectivity, semiconductor industry, electric vehicles and other renewable energy technologies.

One key development reached in Beijing was the signing of a joint statement on combating climate change. This is a significant step forward as it demonstrates a political interest in elevating the Brazil-China partnership in promoting global environmental protection. 

On the multilateral front, the declaration urged developed countries to honor their unfulfilled climate finance obligation and emphasized the desire of both nations to foster South-South cooperation, including with the Group of 77 and China, to advance the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement

The statement also signals some areas that may receive greater priority in bilateral relations, such as eliminating illegal logging and deforestation globally, including through the joint development of technologies like forest monitoring satellites — initiatives that could be further advanced in the scope of the announced Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change under the China-Brazil High-level Coordination and Cooperation Committee. 

These are particularly promising achievements, as while China is not the exclusive destination of Brazilian exports, it currently ranks as the largest importer of Brazilian products linked to deforestation, such as soy and meat, making it vital to strengthen the two nations’ cooperation in efforts to conserve forests.

Considering the substantial weight of their economies and their position as some of the world’s most biodiverse countries, it is crucial for Brazil and China to place climate and environmental concerns at the heart of this new era in bilateral relations. 

Prioritizing this agenda would not only bring benefits to the populations and biomes of both countries, but also contribute to the well-being of the planet as a whole. 

Maiara Folly is the Executive Director of Plataforma CIPO, a Brazil-based think tank dedicated to issues of climate, governance and international relations. Joao Cumaru is a Researcher at Plataforma CIPO and a master’s student in Chinese Politics and Diplomacy at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University. 

The views do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.