Bill Gates visits China, hot on the heels of Elon Musk, with Xi meeting confirmed

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Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, during the EEI 2023 event in Austin, Texas, US, on Monday, June 12, 2023.

Jordan Vonderhaar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Microsoft‘s co-founder Bill Gates on Friday and said he hopes the friendship between Chinese and Americans will continue, state media CCTV reported.

“The world is emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, people should move more, communicate more, and enhance understanding,” Xi reportedly said. “I often say that the foundation of China-U.S. relations lies in the people. We always place our hopes on the American people and hope that the friendship between the two peoples will continue.”

In the meeting at Beijing’s Diaoyutai state guesthouse, Xi also told Gates he is the “first American friend” that the Chinese leader has met in Beijing this year.

Top diplomat Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Qin Gang were among those who attended the meeting.

“China is willing to carry out extensive scientific and technological innovation cooperation with all countries in the world, and actively participate in and promote global challenges such as climate change, epidemic prevention and public health,” said Xi.

Their meeting comes a day after the billionaire philanthropist met Beijing’s mayor to discuss a drug discovery partnership with China.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — which Gates is the co chair of — announced Thursday a $50 million donation over the next five years into the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute established by his foundation. Beijing’s municipal government will match the $50 million investment.

GHDDI primarily focuses on developing new drugs for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, which significantly impact the world’s poorest.

China has made significant gains reducing poverty and improving health outcomes within China. China can play an even bigger role in addressing the current challenges.

Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder

“China is willing to continue to strengthen cooperation with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in relevant fields, and provide support and assistance within its capacity to other developing countries,” said Xi, according to the CCTV report.

Speaking at GHDDI on Thursday, Gates said there’s an urgent need to address a resurgence of infectious diseases, the worsening impact of climate change and a hunger crisis.

“China has made significant gains reducing poverty and improving health outcomes within China. China can play an even bigger role in addressing the current challenges, particularly those facing African countries,” Gates said.

In the 1950s, China had at least 30 million malaria cases and more than 300,000 malaria deaths each year. But then cases and deaths began to drop steadily, in part because of breakthroughs from Chinese scientists, Gates said.

He called Chinese researchers “brilliant” and said he was eager to see how researchers at GHDDI, across China and the world, contribute to global progress in the years to come.

Not the first U.S. business leader to visit

Gates’ visit comes on the heels of visits to China by other prominent tech leaders — such as Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive in Beijing on the weekend, and is expected to meet senior Chinese officials to discuss the importance of maintaining open communication between the two countries.

This will be Blinken’s first trip to China under the Biden administration.

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