Bill Gates meets with President Xi Jiping on his return to China

The businessman Bill Gates had a meeting with the leader of China , Xi Jinping , prior to the arrival of US authorities who seek to restart bilateral discussions.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday during a visit to support China’s efforts in medical research. The meeting, announced by Chinese state television, is highly unusual for an American businessman. In recent years, only a few have been individually greeted by Xi, including Apple boss Tim Cook and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

The meeting takes place two days before the expected visit of the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in a context of strong diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Washington. “You are the first American friend I’ve met this year.”

“We have always pinned our hopes on the American people and hope that the friendship between the two peoples will continue,” Xi Jinping was quoted as saying by Chinese state media.

Bill Gates was welcomed as co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The tycoon and philanthropist arrived in China on Wednesday night, explaining that he had come to meet with partners on health and development issues. His foundation announced Thursday that it would donate $50 million to support Chinese efforts to fight diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. These diseases “disproportionately affect the poorest countries on the planet,” the foundation stressed.

Bill Gates returns to China after 4 years

The American businessman, one of the richest men in the world, is in China for the first time since 2019 to meet with partners from his foundation; which will also renew its cooperation with the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI) -founded in Beijing by Bill Gates-, the Beijing municipal authorities and the heads of the prestigious Tsinghua University.

“China has made great progress in reducing poverty and improving health in the country,” Gates said in a speech at the GHDDI on Thursday. “I hope that China can play an even bigger role in meeting the current challenges, particularly those faced by African countries,” he added.

When she was in China in 2019, she met with First Lady Peng Liyuan to discuss her foundation’s work on AIDS prevention. On a previous trip, in 2018, she had posed in Beijing next to a container full of excrement to draw attention to the lack of toilets in developing countries.

Gates joins a growing number of Western businessmen who recently traveled to the world’s second largest economy, taking advantage of its reopening after the end of anti-covid restrictions. During his visit in May, Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX, was received by several Chinese ministers and visited his electric car brand’s huge factory in Shanghai, where he was able to speak with staff.

A China Central Television news broadcast shows footage of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (left) meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, | Source: AFP or licensors | Photographer: GREG BAKER

US and China seek rapprochement

JPMorgan Chase bank CEO Jamie Dimon visited the country earlier this month, while Apple CEO Tim Cook was in Beijing in March. There he had praised his company’s “symbiotic” relationship with China. Other representatives of big American companies such as Starbucks or General Motors have also gone to China in recent weeks to meet with senior Chinese government officials.

Business travel has resumed since China abandoned its so-called “zero covid” health policy and reopened its borders this year. Xi Jinping and Bill Gates have met several times in the past. In 2015, Gates visited China to discuss the foundation’s work on health and development programs. In 2017, Xi visited the United States and met Gates at the White House.

The meeting between Xi and Gates is a positive sign that both sides are ready for dialogue. However, it remains to be seen whether the meeting will lead to any concrete progress on the issues that divide the two countries. The United States and China are the two largest economies in the world. The two countries have a long history of cooperation, but they also have areas of disagreement.

The United States and China have been at odds on a number of issues in recent years, including trade, human rights and Taiwan. The two countries have also been locked in a technological rivalry that has impacted business activities between Chinese and American companies. Huawei and Google had to cancel their agreements after the veto imposed by former President Trump in 2019.

– With information from AFP –