Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has canceled a high-profile trip to China for medical reasons, and the March 27-31 visit will be rescheduled, his press secretary said on Saturday.
The press secretary released a medical note stating that after a clinical evaluation, the 77-year-old Lula was diagnosed with bacterial and viral bronchopneumonia caused by influenza A, and treatment has been initiated.
“Despite clinical improvement, the medical service of the Presidency of the Republic recommends postponing the trip to China until the viral transmission cycle ends,” the note said.
The Brazilian government has informed the Chinese authorities of the postponement and its intention to reschedule the visit.
The trip, which was to include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, was viewed as a significant effort by the new leftist president to enhance relations with Brazil’s largest trading partner.
Lula took office in January. He was initially scheduled to travel on Saturday but postponed his departure to Sunday after being diagnosed with mild pneumonia.
He was to travel with a large delegation including a half-dozen Cabinet ministers, plus governors, lawmakers and 240 business leaders. More than a third of the business leaders were from Brazil’s farm sector, which sends the lion’s share of its beef, soybeans and wood pulp to China.
With the cancellation, attention now turns to the presentation of an eagerly awaited fiscal framework in Brazil, which was initially promised by Finance Minister Fernando Haddad for March but was postponed by Lula until after the China trip.
The new framework is considered essential to addressing fiscal concerns after Lula secured congressional approval for a multibillion-real package that circumvents the constitutional spending cap to boost social spending and fulfill campaign promises.