The president’s health has been a concern in recent years after he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2011.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has indefinitely postponed his trip to China and important talks with President Xi Jinping to allow him to recover from pneumonia, the presidential palace said.
The leftist leader, 77, was admitted to a hospital in the capital, Brasilia, with flu-like symptoms and was diagnosed with “bacterial and viral bronchopneumonia due to influenza A,” the palace said in a statement.
Lula’s health was reassessed on Saturday and despite improvement, he was advised to “postpone travel to China until the cycle of viral transmission is over,” the statement said.
The government has notified Chinese authorities and informed them of Lula’s desire to reschedule the visit, the palace said.
Lula, who succeeded far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro early this year, had hoped to use the trip next week to reclaim his country’s role in global diplomacy. Talks in Beijing were expected to focus on strengthening trade and war in Ukraine.
Lula narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in October’s election to win an unprecedented third presidential term after a hiatus that saw him spend a year and a half behind bars for corruption convictions, which were later overturned.
Just three months into his last term as president – he has already visited Argentina and the United States – the six-day trip to China, Brazil’s biggest trading partner, was seen as crucial for Lula.
Lula brought Brazil closer to China, traveling to Beijing twice during his two previous presidential terms from 2003 to 2010.
This marks a departure from Brazil’s foreign policy under Bolsonaro, who showed little interest in international affairs or travel abroad.
A delegation of ministers, senators, legislators and hundreds of businessmen was ready to accompany the president.
Lula’s health has been a concern in recent years.
In November, Lula underwent surgery to remove a lesion on his vocal cords.
In 2011, the president was diagnosed with throat cancer shortly after leaving the presidency. He went into remission after treatment.