In the Brazilian general election to be held in October 2022, former Brazilian President and Labor Party candidate Lula (left wing) defeated Liberal Party candidate and current President Bolsonaro (right wing) and was elected the new Brazilian president. This will also be Lula’s third term as President of Brazil. Lula’s return marks the climax of a new round of left-wing ruling cycle in Latin America, and also creates good conditions for deepening China-Pakistan relations.
During Lula’s administration: China-Pakistan relations have a good momentum
This year marks the 48th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brazil, and it is also the 10th anniversary of upgrading the relationship between the two countries to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The two countries have developed from “prudent diplomacy” at the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic relations to a strategic partnership, and then to promoting a comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level, highlighting the strategic and leading nature of China-Pakistan relations. China-Pakistan relations have become a model of China-Latin America cooperation, a model of cooperation among emerging market countries, and a model of South-South cooperation. Especially since the new century, China-Pakistan relations have developed rapidly and achieved remarkable results. Since the Brazilian Workers’ Party came to power for the first time in 2003, China-Pakistan relations have experienced periods of alternating power between left and right parties. Both left-wing and left-wing governments in Brazil attach great importance to relations with China, especially during Lula’s administration (two terms, 2003-2010), China-Pakistan relations have achieved all-round development.
First of all, China-Pakistan economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly. Lula’s administration coincided with the 2003-2008 international commodity boom. Thanks to the significant improvement in terms of trade, Brazil’s economy has grown rapidly. At the same time, China’s accession to the WTO has made China’s economy deeply integrated into the global economy, resulting in strong import demand. Due to the strong internal complementarity of the economic structure of China and Pakistan, China-Pakistan economic relations have achieved leapfrog development. From 2000 to 2021, the average annual growth rate of China-Pakistan trade will be 21.3%, which is higher than the average annual growth rate of China-Latin America trade (18.6%) during the same period. During the period from 2003 to 2010 when Lula was in power, the average annual growth rate of China-Pakistan trade was as high as 39.1%. Since 2009, China has become Brazil’s largest trading partner and has maintained this position for 13 consecutive years. In terms of investment, from 2003 to 2010 when Lula was in power, China’s investment stock in Brazil increased by 16.7 times; from 2010 to 2020, this indicator only increased by 2.5 times.
Secondly, inter-governmental communication and cooperation start institutional construction. For example, in 2004 when Lula was in power, China and Pakistan established a high-level coordination and cooperation committee (high-level committee), which is responsible for coordinating and promoting the overall development of bilateral relations. The China-Pakistan High-Level Committee is the highest-level dialogue and cooperation mechanism between the two governments. Today, under this mechanism, the two sides have established nine sub-committees, including politics, economy and trade, science and technology and innovation, energy and minerals, aerospace, culture, industry and information industry, inspection and quarantine, finance and finance, and actively promoted practical cooperation in various fields. . The institutionalized construction of China-Pakistan cooperation is conducive to the stability and long-term effectiveness of bilateral relations.
Third, jointly create a BRICS cooperation mechanism to promote South-South cooperation. In 2006, the foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China held their first meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, which opened the prelude to the BRICS cooperation. In June 2009, leaders of the BRICS countries held their first meeting in Yekaterinburg, Russia, to promote the official launch of the BRICS cooperation mechanism. South Africa officially joined the BRICS in 2011. Today, BRICS cooperation has become a model for emerging market economies and developing countries to unite and strengthen themselves. It is not only an important engine of world economic growth, but also an important promoter and leader of global governance reform. In view of this, after Lula’s return, he will pay more attention to the BRICS cooperation mechanism he participated in, and the BRICS cooperation is expected to achieve greater breakthroughs.
Finally, China and Pakistan jointly responded to the international financial crisis and actively promoted cooperation in global governance. On the one hand, during the second term of Lula’s administration, the world economy was hit by the international financial crisis. In addition to taking active countermeasures, China and Brazil also jointly responded to the crisis through financial cooperation and innovation. On the other hand, Brazil has a tradition of adhering to multilateralism in history. China and Brazil have very similar positions on issues such as the reform of the United Nations, the reform of the international financial system, and the restart of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. They have always maintained strategic dialogue and close cooperation. Continuing to deepen and promote China-Pakistan cooperation in the field of global governance provides a solid foundation.
Lula’s third term in power: the challenge will be greater than ever
At present, Brazil’s domestic and international environment is significantly different from Lula’s previous two ruling periods. As far as the international environment is concerned, the super-boom period of international commodities and the dividend period of economic globalization no longer exist, replaced by increasing uncertainties and destabilizing factors in the world. First, the prevalence of international populism has led to prominent international political polarization. In the second round of voting in Brazil’s general election, the left-wing candidate Lula defeated the right-wing candidate Bolsonaro with only a slight advantage of less than 2%, which is a reflection of international political polarization in Brazil. Second, geopolitical conflicts keep coming and going, and the world structure is undergoing profound adjustments. The escalation and continuation of the Ukraine crisis has not only accelerated the pace of reconstruction of the world political order, but also profoundly affected changes in the world economic structure by triggering food crises and energy crises. Third, economic globalization has encountered “headwinds”, and international security issues have become increasingly prominent. The combination of trade protectionism since 2017 and the COVID-19 outbreak since 2020, as well as this year’s Ukraine crisis, have seriously impacted the stability and security of the global industrial and supply chains, and the world is increasingly concerned about the emergence of “parallel systems”. Fourth, the decline in social resilience caused by the increase in the global poor population and the widening gap in income distribution has reacted on politics and the economy, putting the world in a new period of turmoil.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China and Brazil have cooperated in the fight against COVID-19. On April 19, 2021, another batch of active ingredients of China’s Kexing new crown vaccine arrived at Sao Paulo International Airport in Brazil.
As far as the domestic environment is concerned, Lula’s third term will face greater political, economic, social and diplomatic challenges than before. In terms of politics, winning political allies to ease the serious political confrontation in the country is its top priority; in terms of economy, curbing inflation and promoting growth is the main issue that needs to be resolved, and the government’s policy balance will face another test; socially, protecting people’s livelihood The tasks of promoting development, eradicating hunger, giving priority to helping low-income families, and promoting inclusive plans are also very arduous. In terms of diplomacy, it is imperative to reverse the anti-globalization tendency held by the Bolsonaro government and reshape the image of a major country’s pluralistic and independent diplomacy.
Although the mainstream view predicts that Lula will adopt a pragmatic policy after taking office, the form, strength and rhythm of the policy will be different from before, and the difficulty of the policy will be greater than before, mainly concentrated in four aspects. One is that it is expected that the Lula government may adopt a policy orientation similar to that of its second term (less interventionism), but will strengthen the control of the national oil company and play more of the role of the public bank, which may weaken the The competitiveness of Brazil’s business environment; the second is that despite Lula’s promise to establish a new, reliable, predictable and counter-cyclical fiscal framework, given that he will inherit the weak fiscal position inherited from the Bolsonaro government; and Public spending in the social field will be greatly increased, so the above commitments are facing great challenges; the third is to restore relations with developed countries by strengthening environmental protection, and then promote the free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union to take effect as soon as possible, and promote Brazil to join In terms of the OECD, Lula will also face a lot of challenges; the fourth is the challenge of actively participating in global governance through international political and economic cooperation platforms and reshaping the diplomatic image of regional powers.
Promoting China-Pakistan relations to a new level
Although Lula may encounter various challenges in the upcoming third term, there are still new opportunities for the development of China-Pakistan relations. Looking forward to the future, the two countries will definitely aim at high-quality cooperation to promote the stability and long-term development of China-Pakistan relations.
First, deepen political mutual trust and strengthen the mechanism construction of communication and consultation. The left-wing government in Brazil is more conducive to political dialogue and cooperation between the two sides. The two sides will pay more attention to institutional construction such as the China-Pakistan High-level Coordination and Cooperation Committee and the Foreign Ministers’ Comprehensive Strategic Dialogue, so as to coordinate and promote the overall development of bilateral relations.
Second, continue to deepen economic and trade relations and carry out in-depth production capacity cooperation. Facts have proved that economic and trade cooperation is the endogenous driving force for the development of bilateral relations, and it can also serve as a stabilizer and ballast in times of crisis. For example, in 2021, China-Pakistan trade exceeded US$100 billion for the fourth consecutive year, reaching a record US$164.06 billion, accounting for 36.3% of China-Latin America trade that year, and achieved growth against the trend during the epidemic. Therefore, deepening bilateral economic and trade relations and promoting cooperation to improve quality and efficiency are of great significance to the development of China-Pakistan relations. At the same time, in view of the long-term task facing the new Brazilian government to promote the upgrading of industrial structure and diversification of production, in addition to consolidating the advantages of traditional energy and mining cooperation, the two sides may also cooperate in high-level fields such as agriculture and its processing industry, intelligent manufacturing, and digital economy. Expand cooperation space in value-added fields. In addition, in accordance with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the two sides will also actively promote cooperation in sustainable development areas such as clean energy, public health, and poverty reduction.
Third, strengthen cooperation in the field of infrastructure and discuss the joint construction of the “Belt and Road”. Poor infrastructure is still an important factor restricting the long-term growth of Brazil’s economy. It is expected that after the Lula government takes office, infrastructure concession measures will still be implemented, which will provide opportunities for China and Brazil to increase cooperation in the field of infrastructure. On this basis, the possibility of Brazil joining China’s “One Belt, One Road” “circle of friends” is also increasing.
Fourth, attach importance to the BRICS cooperation mechanism and set up a model of South-South cooperation. The two sides will take the BRICS cooperation as an opportunity to promote the BRICS countries to achieve practical results in terms of expansion, currency cooperation, organizational construction, and improvement of the flexibility and responsiveness of the emergency reserve arrangement mechanism.
Fifth, unite with developing countries to strengthen cooperation on global governance issues. The two sides will use their respective influences in international affairs to unite with a wider range of developing countries and use the platforms of international organizations such as the Group of Twenty (G20), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank , to contribute the solutions and wisdom of developing countries in improving the global governance system, implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, addressing climate change, and building national security.
In short, the century-old epidemic and the Ukraine crisis have been superimposed on the changes of a century, causing the world to face many uncertainties. However, China-Pakistan cooperation is a model of South-South cooperation, and its high-quality development is expected to contribute more certainty to world development and security.