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China's Xi to host Brazil's Lula in Beijing to secure economic ties

Chinese leader Xi Jinping will play host to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Beijing on Friday, continuing the Asian country’s international diplomacy campaign which has included meetings with Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The leaders will seek to bolster ties between two of the world’s largest developing nations. The meeting comes on the heels of China already convincing Brazil to drop the use of the U.S. dollar in some international agreements.

The meeting comes on the second day of Lula’s visit to his country.

China is Brazil’s most important trading partner and ally. Their ongoing relationship falls in hand with China’s interest in challenging Western-dominated economic institutions.

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Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a ministerial meeting to celebrate the first 100 days of his government at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on April 10, 2023. 

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a ministerial meeting to celebrate the first 100 days of his government at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on April 10, 2023.  (Mateus Bonomi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The state visit included a swearing-in ceremony Thursday for former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who now serves as head of the Chinese-backed New Development Bank, which funds infrastructure projects in Brazil and elsewhere in the developing world.

The NDB portrays itself as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

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The Brazilian government has said the two countries are expected to sign at least 20 bilateral agreements, underscoring the improvement in relations since Lula took over in January.

Chinese and Brazilian national flags flutter in the wind above the main entrance of the Peace Hotel on Nanjing Road Pedestrian street in Shanghai, China, April 13, 2023. 

Chinese and Brazilian national flags flutter in the wind above the main entrance of the Peace Hotel on Nanjing Road Pedestrian street in Shanghai, China, April 13, 2023.  (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

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.

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Lula’s visit to China follows trips to Argentina and Uruguay in January and to the U.S. in February.

A key component of Lula’s international outreach is his proposal that Brazil and other developing countries, including China, mediate peace over Ukraine. His proposal, however, includes a suggestion that Ukraine cedes Crimea to forge peace, which has angered Kyiv.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023. Xi on Tuesday . 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023. Xi on Tuesday .  (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via Getty Images)

China has also been active in playing a role to end the conflict, though it claims to be more objective about the situation. Beijing often makes statements supportive of Moscow.

China has refused to condemn the invasion, criticized international economic sanctions on Russia and accused the U.S. and NATO of further provocations.

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Russia and China declared a “no limits” relationship in 2022. Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed this relationship in March during a meeting in Moscow.

Xi also recently met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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