Brazilian president visits NDB, Huawei in Shanghai, underscores cooperation under BRICS mechanism
BRICS is development instrument, which will certainly be strong: Lula
Published: Apr 13, 2023 11:23 PM
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (R) and Brazilian former President Dilma Rousseff shake hands after Rousseff took office as the new President of the New Development Bank (NDB) in Shanghai, China on April 13, 2023. Photo:AFP

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (R) and Brazilian former President Dilma Rousseff shake hands after Rousseff took office as the new President of the New Development Bank (NDB) in Shanghai, China on April 13, 2023. Photo:AFP

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is visiting China, began the day on Thursday with stops in Shanghai, including visits to the headquarters of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) and Huawei's technology development center.

The arrangement demonstrated that in addition to signing pragmatic bilateral trade and investment cooperation agreements, Brazil aims to enhance multilateral cooperation and global governance, observers noted.

On Thursday morning, Lula arrived at the headquarters of the NDB, met with NDB President Dilma Rousseff, and delivered a speech to the staff. It was the first time that a head of state had paid a visit to the headquarters of the NDB.

The visit signifies the Brazilian leader's commitment to multilateral cooperation, global governance and BRICS cooperation, in addition to showing his support for Rousseff, Zhu Jiejin, a professor of global governance studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"The decision to create the NDB was a milestone in the joint action of emerging countries... The creation of this bank showed that the union of emerging countries is capable of generating relevant social and economic changes for the world," Lula tweeted in Portuguese on Thursday.

For the first time, a development bank with global reach was established without the participation of developed countries in its initial phase. It was free, therefore, from the shackles of conditionality imposed by traditional institutions on emerging economies, he noted.

The NDB is like a child of the five BRICS countries, of which Brazil and China are very important members. If the NDB, based in China, shows good momentum in its development, it is surely one of the most important achievements of BRICS cooperation, Zhu said.

"The dream of creating the BRICS was to have a development instrument, which will certainly be strong, from the perspective of benefiting the countries," Lula noted.

"In addition to continuing to work for reform of the UN, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, we need to creatively use the G20 and the BRICS... in order to strengthen priority issues for the developing world," Lula tweeted, adding that "we are back on the international scene after an inexplicable absence."

The BRICS cooperation mechanism has made great progress in recent years, especially in the areas of trade and investment, the digital economy and green development. The mechanism carries the expectations of many developing countries and has produced a demonstration effect of "South-South cooperation," and it will expand the representation and voice of emerging countries in global governance, analysts noted.

Algeria, Iran and Argentina have applied to join the BRICS, showing the international attraction of the mechanism.

The share of GDP of G7 nations based on their purchasing power parity fell from 50.42 percent of global GDP in 1982 to 30.39 percent in 2022, while the share of BRICS nations increased from 10.66 percent in 1982 to 31.59 percent in 2022, according to media reports.

After concluding his visit to the NDB, Lula visited the Shanghai Research Institute of Chinese tech company Huawei on Thursday afternoon. "I visited Huawei's technology development center. The company gave a presentation on 5G and solutions in telemedicine, education and connectivity. A very strong investment in research and innovation," he tweeted.

Established in 1996, the institute focuses on research and product development of wireless communications, and is mainly engaged in the research and development of products and solutions for wireless networks, flagship smartphones, smart cars and digital energy.

"President Lula's visit reflected the desire of China and Brazil to cooperate more closely in the field of science and technology as Brazil aims to diversify its trade with China, and this visit is also a process of learning and introducing," Ma Jihua, a veteran telecom industry observer, told the Global Times on Thursday.

While it seems to be a normal arrangement, Bloomberg reported that Lula's Huawei visit "may irk the US," as the US had added Huawei to its Entity List on grounds of being a so-called national security threat.

"We want to have good and close relations with everyone, everywhere," Brazil's Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira told a small group of journalists on April 5, in a briefing ahead of Lula's trip to China.

The US shouldn't see Lula's potential visit to Huawei as a provocation, he said at the time. "If the president visits other countries, he'll likely visit other companies," he added. 

"As for the feelings of the US, it should be said that the visit reflected the recognition and support of the emerging BRICS countries represented by Brazil for Chinese technology companies," Ma noted.

Although not a deliberate challenge to the US, the rather high-profile visit showed Brazil won't heed the hints of the US. This, and France's commitment to treating Chinese tech firms fairly, set a good example for other countries in Europe and the Middle East, and even India, making them less concerned about pressure from the US for a forced technology decoupling from China, according to Ma.

Chen Jining, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, met with Lula and his delegation on Thursday, saying that the city will continue to strengthen cooperation with Brazil in fields like trade, industry and energy, and jointly promote urban transformation and green low-carbon development, and that more Brazilian enterprises are welcome to invest in Shanghai.