New Horizons for China-Latin America Cooperation: Insights from Lula’s Visit

The partnership between China and Latin America, including Brazil, will be important for the region, not only through the example of China but through concrete actions, based on the principle of mutual gains, which could make all the difference for the region's future.

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Photo taken on Jan. 18, 2021 shows Longping High-Tech Brazil, a Chinese-invested company owned by Longping Agriculture Science Co., Ltd., in Cravinhos, Brazil. (Xinhua)

by Luis Antonio Paulino

The visit of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to China may open a new chapter in the bilateral relations between Brazil and China, thus helping to raise the relations between China and Latin America to a new level.

As agreed between China and Brazil, Lula is paying a state visit to China from April 12 to 15.

The visit focuses on seeking to expand and strengthen cooperation between Brazil and China in close ties and new areas, and will pave the way for a new leap in bilateral relations, which could promote greater synergy between Brazil’s reindustrialization strategy and the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Indeed, the meeting between Lula and Chinese President Xi Jinping will result in an even greater strengthening of the ties of cooperation and friendship between the two countries, mainly because, in many aspects, Lula’s worldview is totally in line with what Xi has been proposing in international forums.

Brazil’s participation in the initiative not only means a new wave of Chinese investment in Brazil, but also will eventually consolidate the China-Latin America partnership and symbolically bury the notorious Monroe Doctrine. According to the Monroe Doctrine, the region must always obey the political and economic influence of the United States, which believes that the region is its backyard.

For centuries, the region’s development has been subordinated to the geopolitical interests of the United States in the hemisphere, which, for various reasons, has become an obstacle to overcoming the economic and social backwardness that has characterized the region since colonial times.

The multiple moments in which, for geopolitical and ideological reasons, the various attempts to find an alternative development path for the region’s countries were aborted by the local elites with the explicit support of the United States, are well recorded in history.

The search for a new development model is an aspiration of the region’s progressive forces committed to national sovereignty and the well-being of the people.

China offers a viable alternative, which, correctly adapted to local conditions and realities, can represent the opening of a new chapter in the region’s history.

The partnership between China and Latin America, including Brazil, will be important for the region, not only through the example of China but through concrete actions, based on the principle of mutual gains, which could make all the difference for the region’s future.

Among the countless possibilities, I would highlight two for the future economy — the green economy and cutting-edge technologies.

In the environmental area, a partnership between Brazil and China could break with the current impasse between the country’s desire for development and the pressure that Brazil receives from the United States and the European Union to resign itself to the status of environmental reserve on the planet.

A partnership between Brazil and China in defense of the Amazon rainforest could open a new path that could combine the economic use of the region’s resources, to the benefit of the country and local populations, with the preservation of the forest, thanks to the technologies and experience that China has been developing.

Better than anyone, China knows the importance of developing and preserving the environment. Technical, economic, and financial cooperation in this area could help Brazil, and other countries in the region find the necessary balance between development and environmental preservation.

In the technological area, this partnership could also open a new path for the insertion of Brazil and other countries in the region in the global supply chains of industrial and technological goods with higher added value.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, much was said about the reorganization of global supply chains that could, in theory, benefit the region, but practically nothing has happened so far. It is not in the interest of the large multinationals in cutting-edge technology in the West, such as semiconductors and the pharmaceutical industry, among others, to transfer higher value-added activities to the region.

The agreements that have been signed between Brazil and China in these areas during Lula’s visit to China show that there is a world of possibilities that could be better explored and lead not only to the reversal of the deindustrialization process by which the countries of the region, namely Brazil, are currently passing by, as it could represent the entry of the region into the world of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, not only as a supplier of raw materials but also as a producer of goods with greater added value and development of technologies.

Editor’s note: Luis Antonio Paulino is professor of Sao Paulo State University’s Faculty of Philosophy and Sciences. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.

Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

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