Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday, June 16, 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 received by Xi Jinping, 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 said. quoted 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 evening, June 14, explaining that his trip was for the purpose of meeting with partners on health and development issues.
His foundation announced Thursday that it would donate $50 million to support Chinese efforts to fight diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.
These diseases “disproportionately affect the poorest countries on the planet,” the foundation stressed.
The American businessman, one of the richest men in the world, visited China for the first time since 2019 to meet with partners from his foundation.
The foundation 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, he had posed in Beijing next to a container full of excrement to draw attention to the lack of toilets in developing countries.
China continues to receive big businessmen from the United States
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 the huge factory of his electric car brand in Shanghai.where i was able to speak to the staff.
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 large American companies such as Starbucks or General Motors they 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.
*With information from AFP.
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President Xi Jinping, happy with Bill Gates’ visit to China; “He is the first friend from the United States that I meet with”