Neither the United States nor China. Faced with an increase in tensions between the two largest economies in the world, the best possible position is to negotiate in the spaces created by the two countries that dispute global hegemony, defends the professor of International Political Economy at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) Isabela Walnut.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) makes his first visit to the Northern Hemisphere during his new term this Friday (10) with a trip to the United States, where he will meet President Joe Biden at the White House. The visit comes against a backdrop of growing animosity between Beijing and Washington.
The US continues with its sanctions campaign to try to curb Chinese technological development, with a special focus on the semiconductor sector, and has increased the pace of its sales of military equipment to Taiwan. Taiwanese claim to be an autonomous country, while Chinese President Xi Jinping has said supporting Taiwan’s independence is “playing with fire”.
There is also the war in Ukraine. While the Americans lead the supply of weapons to the Ukrainians in their conflict against Russia, the Chinese are Russian allies and often point to the expansionism of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Western military alliance) as the cause of the dispute.
This is the international scenario that Brazil finds, says Nogueira, after Jair Bolsonaro’s (PL) “business desk” foreign policy. Faced with the movement of “tectonic plates” and a world in transition that is the conflict between China and the USA, Brazil must seek “the spaces that open up” for peripheral countries.
“Brazil once again has a foreign policy that will seek a degree of international protagonism, a degree of international autonomy, and which, possibly, ideally and potentially, will be articulated with national public policies aimed, especially in this case due to the relevance of the Brazil-China and Brazil-US relations, to the project of reindustrialization of Brazil, of moving up the value chains and of green reindustrialization”, said Nogueira to the Brazil in fact.
One of these possible sectors is the technology sector. Biden has stepped up the sanctions campaign against China’s advanced chip industry and is betting on subsidies and public investment in the billions of dollars to ensure supremacy in this vital field for the economic race of the 21st century. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger already stated that semiconductors will be as important as oil for geopolitics in the coming decades.
In this technological dispute against the Chinese, the US is looking for allies. The US Congress recently approved an incentive package for the sector, the Chips and Science Act, which provides for partnerships with external allies. This move could be taken advantage of by Brazil, as Lula decided to reverse the liquidation of Ceitec, a Brazilian public semiconductor company that Bolsonaro tried to privatize.
Coordinator of the Laboratory of Studies in China’s Political Economy (LabChina), Nogueira points out that there is room for strategic coordination with the Chinese as well. She highlights Beijing’s agreements with Iran and Vietnam as examples of joint developments, as well as initiatives such as the Brics Bank and the New Silk Road.
“It is very important that at this moment Brazil does not have automatic alignment with anyone, that it knows how to make a strategic policy aimed at the national interest. Automatic alignment, at this moment, is effectively not in the interest of Brazilian national development. very keen to know how to do diplomacy, know how to dance samba in the midst of an international scenario that is extremely tense and conflictual, with war running rampant and with the imminence, or at least the potential risk, of a conflict between two superpowers”, evaluates the researcher at UFRJ.
Lula has already signaled the priority of regional integration
Lula has disagreements with key points of US foreign policy. The Brazilian president has already criticized the White House’s sanctions against Cuba, seeking to strengthen Celac and an independent position in the face of the war in Ukraine. The petista denied the request of the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for ammunition for tanks, for the Ukrainians.
But that doesn’t mean that Lula stopped considering the Russian invasion a “mistake”. The Brazilian president even stated that it is time for China to “get its hands dirty” and act to negotiate peace.
In addition to these movements, Lula issued an important message when he first visited Argentina, assesses Nogueira. According to the UFRJ professor, the sign is that “regional integration” will be a starting point for her diplomacy. Before visiting the US, Lula participated in the CELAC summit in Buenos Aires and also crossed the River Plate for a meeting with Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou in an attempt to settle disputes within Mercosur.
“The first visit was to Argentina, this is very important because it made regional integration clear and that together we have to think about all this. When we are talking about the partnership with China, for example, it is certainly important to think about the role that the China and that the development banks linked to it can have in the financing of projects that even involve regional integration in sustainable infrastructure here in the Southern Cone. This regional articulation is becoming more and more important”, says the UFRJ professor.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho
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