The Chinese Communist Party is celebrating the return of convicted felon and Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to power, branding the hardline socialist an “old friend of the Chinese people” and raising expectations for ties to Beijing in statements on Monday and Tuesday.
Following congratulations from genocidal Chinese dictator Xi Jinping and the nation’s Foreign Ministry, the state-run media outlet Global Times published multiple optimistic commentaries predicting Lula will bring Brasilia closer to Beijing in economic and geopolitical cooperation, potentially damaging American diplomacy on its own hemisphere.
Lula won the 2022 election on Sunday by about 2 million votes, a margin of a little over one percent. Bolsonaro has yet to concede the election or make any public appearances or pronouncements since Sunday, baffling the Brazilian people. Some Bolsonaro voters have taken his silence as a sign that the president will contest the election and have erected roadblocks in at least 14 states of the nation.
Lula, a 77-year-old hardline leftist who served as president from 2003 to 2011, was allowed to run for office despite being a convicted felon. The former head of state was convicted on multiple appeals of using bribe money to buy a luxury property while he was president, part of a much larger corruption scheme that has now come to be known by the name of the police investigation that uncovered it, “Operation Car Wash.” As of 2019, Lula was sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison.
The nation’s top court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), overturned the sentence last year on the grounds that the court originally processing the case did not have jurisdiction. The court did not challenge the evidence against Lula.
The Chinese government applauded Lula’s election despite Bolsonaro’s many overtures to the Communist Party, including a friendly visit to Beijing in 2019 in which he signed eight trade agreements and gifted Xi a Brazilian soccer jersey. The warm embrace from Chinese government news outlets and the Foreign Ministry for Lula indicates that Bolsonaro undermining his campaign promise to “put a foot in the ass of socialism” did little to win Beijing over to the self-proclaimed conservative’s side.
Xi issued a formal statement congratulating Lula on Monday, stating he “attaches great importance to the development of China-Brazil relations and stands ready to work with President-elect Lula, from a strategic height and long-term perspective, to jointly plan and lift China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level so as to benefit the two countries and their people.” Some observers noted that Xi’s message differed little in its text from a recent message he sent Bolsonaro congratulating him on the 200th anniversary of the founding of Brazil.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian similarly expressed hope that Lula would help advance Chinese interests in South America.
“Warm congratulations to Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on being elected again as Brazil’s president. We wish Brazil new success in its national development,” Zhao said in response to a question on the election by a journalist from the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. “China and Brazil are both major developing countries and important emerging economies and each other’s comprehensive strategic partners.”
“We look forward to working with Mr. Lula da Silva and the new Brazilian government led by him to bring China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level,” Zhao concluded, “deliver more benefits to the two countries and peoples and make our due contribution to regional and world peace and stability and common prosperity.”
The Global Times, a top Chinese English-language propaganda outlet, issued an editorial on Tuesday heartily welcoming the convicted felon president, describing Lula as an “old friend of the Chinese people.”
“Since Lula vigorously promoted the development of China-Brazil relations during his previous term of office and visited China several times, many people are paying high attention to the development of China-Brazil relations after he comes to power,” the outlet observed, accusing Americans of “ulterior interpretations” of “Lula’s identity as an ‘old friend of the Chinese people,'” such as expecting Lula to distance Brazil from the Anglophone West.
The Global Times noted that Bolsonaro did not do much to disturb China’s towering status over the Brazilian economy, achieved under Lula’s first two terms.
“Though there were some noises in bilateral times under Bolsonaro, China-Brazil trade still hit the record of about $164 billion in 2021 despite the pandemic,” the newspaper claimed. “Exchanges between China and Brazil have never been demarcated by ideology. No matter who is in power, we would like to see stability and development of the Brazilian society.”
The Global Times itself has undermined that claim with the publication of racist editorials declaring that Brazilians are culturally inferior to Chinese people.
“Brazilians are not willing to be as diligent and hard working as the Chinese. Neither do they value savings for the next generation, like the Chinese do,” a Global Times editor wrote in 2018. “Yet they demand the same welfare and benefits as those in developed countries.”
“It may sound racist to differentiate development based on culture. But after living in Brazil for a while, you will find out the answer,” the article concluded, declaring Brazil as a whole “unsuitable for manufacturing.”
Hu Xijin, the former Global Times top editor relegated to commentator status after botching the cover-up of the disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai, also weighed in with a video calling Lula’s election “miraculous.” While Hu, and the Global Times as a whole, typically disapprove of transfers of power – opting instead for supporting eternal totalitarian rule under communism – Hu argued, “in some developed countries, it is alright to change leaders frequently and society maintains a normal level of self-governance while the stability of policies and routes in developing countries is often determined by political stability.”
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