Just months after he was welcomed to the White House as a champion of "democracy," Brazil's far-left leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called for an end to the U.S.-dollar-dominated global financial system during a diplomatic visit to China.
The message from America's largest neighbor in Latin America was directed at the so-called BRICS bloc of developing economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
“Who decided that our currencies were weak, that they didn’t have value in other countries?” Lula said.
Interdependence between BRICS countries has grown since the war in Ukraine, which exposed fractures within the so-called "democratic world," as countries like Brazil ramped up trade with Russia.
China and Brazil agreed in March to escalate trade in their own currencies, and Lula is in China this week to develop even closer ties with Brazil's largest trade partner.
Lula attended the inauguration in Shanghai Thursday of an ally, former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, to lead the New Development Bank, which has been billed as the BRICS' equivalent of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
During that visit, Lula called for an end to the U.S. dollar system that Biden controversially weaponized in an effort to crush Russia's economy.
"Why can’t a bank like that of the Brics have a currency to finance trade relations between Brazil and China, between Brazil and other countries? It’s difficult because we are unaccustomed [to the idea]. Everyone depends on just one currency.”
Lula also visited a research center for the telecommunications company Huawei, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. for its alleged role in espionage.
Besides trade, Lula is also expected to discuss the war in Ukraine when he meets with Xi Jinping on Friday in Beijing.
Lula's overtures are not likely to sit well with the White House, which has rejected China's proposals of peace in Ukraine as premature and cynical. Lula has urged Ukraine to give up Crimea, a non-starter for Ukraine and its Western backers.
Biden hosted Lula at the White House in February, welcoming him as an ally in the battle for global "democracy" after supporters of Lula's right-wing, Trump-allied predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, stormed Brazil's capital.
But it appears Lula is going his own way in global affairs.