Bill Gates, the American billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft, was hailed as a "friend" by the Chinese Communist Party General Secretary, Xi Jinping. This week, Gates had a meeting with Xi, Qin Gang - the Chinese Foreign Secretary, and the country's leading diplomat, Wang Yi.
According to Bloomberg, the key discussion points revolved around technological development and pandemic prevention.
In a conversation broadcast on China Central Television, a state-supported broadcaster, Xi expressed to Gates, "You are the first American friend I've met in Beijing this year."
“I’ve always said that the foundation of China-U.S. ties lies among the people,” Xi continued, emphasizing the significance of the ties between China and America. “We always pin our hopes on [the] American people and hope the two peoples can continue to be friendly.”
Reportedly, the dialogue between the two also included discussions on artificial intelligence, though the specifics of this topic have not been revealed yet.
Gates tweeted about his trip to China, stating that he was there to meet partners collaborating on "global health and development challenges." Gates noted, “I’ve just landed in Beijing for the first time since 2019, where I’m excited to visit with partners who have been working on global health and development challenges with [the Gates Foundation] for more than 15 years.”
The Microsoft co-founder also underscored that there is much to learn from China regarding issues related to poverty and health. He further highlighted China's contribution to innovation in tackling global issues like climate change, health inequity, and food insecurity.
Gates said, “Solving problems like climate change, health inequity and food insecurity requires innovation. From developing malaria drugs to investing in climate adaptation, China has a lot of experience in that. We need to unlock that kind of progress for more people around the world.”
However, Gates has faced criticism after Microsoft was accused of helping censor Chinese dissidents, and he has previously downplayed the extent of Chinese censorship. He has also been criticized for banning Chinese journalist Zhao Jing in 2005 at the request of the CCP, as reported by Amnesty International.
Gates' meeting with Xi takes place ahead of the proposed visit to China by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The secretary's previous trip was canceled when a Chinese spy balloon was detected over U.S. airspace.