Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Will Lula be able to walk the tightrope between Washington and Beijing?

As Brazil’s new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (popularly known as Lula) prepares to visit China later this month, maintaining neutrality will be difficult as the winds of change engulf Beijing.

brazil is back

The coming to power of President Lula marked a decisive change in Brazil’s foreign policy. With the resurgence of the Pink Tide in South America, the new president has clearly stated his foreign policy objectives: to restore Brazil’s neutrality and importance in international affairs with both the West and the East, almost identical to those under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro. After 4 years of standoff, who had adopted a Sinophobic, pro-Trump foreign policy.

Brasilia’s 39th president, who previously held office between 2003-2010, will have plenty to talk about as he visits his country’s biggest trading partner, which has traded mostly soy and iron ore in 2022. Imports totaled $89.4 billion in the U.S., adding up to a surplus of $28.7 billion. Brazilian Treasures. Promoting economic partnership with China will be a priority for Lula, who intends to integrate South America into a closer economic unit. Another important item on the agenda included the appointment of former President Dilma Rousseff as the new BRICS Bank President.

Lula and West

Lula had drawn swords with Washington on several occasions during his previous term, such as accusing the United States of reducing South America to its “backyard” by interfering in its internal politics, as well as opposing the Iraq War. Was. Even though it recognizes the importance of maintaining good relations with the great power of the North; Several of Lula’s moves, including sending a delegation to Venezuela led by Maduro, refusing to sign a UN human rights resolution condemning human rights violations in Nicaragua, allowing Iranian warships to dock in Rio de Janeiro, Russia- Maintaining an ambivalent stance on the Ukraine war and refusing to send arms to Kiev, labeling the ‘Balloongate’ incident as a bilateral issue between the US and China, and projecting the Taiwan issue as Beijing’s internal affair, all these have badly hurt the West. Teased.

While tensions remain, Lula’s calls to focus on tackling climate change and saving the Amazon have earned a thumbs-up from the Biden administration since the former’s election to power following the stance adopted by his hardline “Trump of the Tropics” predecessor. Comes as a breath of fresh air. Not so friendly attitude towards Biden’s entry into the White House. Lula understood that Washington’s support was needed and so it was at the top of his list of foreign trips. Lula and Biden held talks amid a cordial atmosphere and vowed to resume bilateral ties by pledging to defend democracy and combat climate change.

winds of change in beijing

However, the winds of change in the east have dispersed the clouds of ambiguity and China now stands more assertive, more critical and more confident in dealing with the United States.

The recent session of the National People’s Congress, which saw Xi Jinping win an unprecedented third term as president, saw him level his criticism against “Washington-led efforts”, describing China as “severe” . Challenges to its development” (“The Western countries, led by the United States, have implemented all-round control, containment and suppression against me, posing unprecedented serious challenges to my country’s development.”) Sino-US relations then The recent point of friction during President Trump’s tenure was the ‘balloon incident’ that caused Anthony Blinken to cancel his visit to Beijing.

Xi recently unveiled his new 24 Character Foreign Policy, which, Dr. Hemant Adlakha believes, is the “New Foreign Policy Mantra of China in the New Era” as part of his strategy to “achieve national rejuvenation by 2049”. serves as a “concept map”. The characters “沉着冷静; 现代定力; 液中求進; 可以会; 智于一个; 敢于移动” which translate to “keep calm; be firm; seek progress and stability; Be active and go ahead for achievements; unite under the Communist Party; Dare to Fight” is set to replace Deng Xiaoping’s 24 character strategy, which focused on never seeking leadership and assuming a low profile.

China’s confidence has been further boosted by the successful attempt to mediate peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been bitter rivals for many years. With the handshake bringing together the Sunni Arab kingdom and the Shia Persian theocracy, Beijing has drawn praise from countries across the region and is poised to play a bigger international role, not only drawing US allies like Riyadh to its side but also its Has also been actively putting forward his plans to end the wars with Xi visiting Putin on the Russia-Ukraine war before meeting with Lula in Beijing. Lula also eagerly speculates what Beijing wants to say as he told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, “It is time for China to get its hands dirty”.

Neutrality no more?

If the state of Sino-US relations does not improve, things will become difficult for many leaders like Lula who seek to strike a balance between the two superpowers. Lula knows neutrality is his best bet, but money matters—as his former foreign minister, Celso Amorim, said, “Our surplus with China—and I’m talking only about our surplus—the United States America is bigger than all our exports combined. It is impossible not to have good relations with China.” Isolating China, with which Brazil has had a long strategic partnership since the 1990s, at the cost of moving closer to the US could be hard on the wallet and exacerbate the many economic challenges it faces. may be isolated—not only because of economic need but also in the face of challenges from far-right forces that both Lula and Biden face.

Lula realizes the risks of putting all her eggs in one basket but will she have the option of dividing the two equally? The issue will only get more complicated, but if he manages to get out of the quagmire of great power rivalry, Lula will set an example not only for South America but for countries around the world. The only viable solution would be to strengthen regional alliances in Latin America and promote partnerships with developing countries such as India, using the collective power of Beijing and Washington to come together.

Times of National
Times of National
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