When Xi Jinping met with Gates, he emphasized US-China cooperation, saying that common development should be the goal, not hegemony.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called Bill Gates an “old friend” and said he hoped they could cooperate in a way that would benefit both China and the United States, the first time Xi met with a foreign entrepreneur in years.
At a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, where Chinese leaders traditionally meet high-level foreign visitors, Xi said he was happy to meet the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist after three years and Gates was the man he met My first American friend this year.
“I often say that the foundation of U.S.-China relations lies in the two peoples. I pin my hopes on the American people,” Xi said in a video released by state broadcaster China Central Television.
“In the current global situation, we can carry out various activities that benefit our two countries and our two peoples, activities that benefit all mankind,” he said.
Xi gave few details, but emphasized the potential benefits of cooperation hampered by disputes over human rights, Taiwan, security and technology.
Gates, who arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, said he was “honored” to have the opportunity to meet. “We’ve always had great conversations and we had a lot of important topics to talk about today… It’s great to be back.”
In a post on his personal blog, Gates said he and Xi discussed global health and development challenges, such as health inequality and climate change.
Xi stopped traveling abroad for nearly three years as China closed its borders amid the coronavirus pandemic, and since reopening, most of his international meetings have been held with other world leaders.
Many chief executives have visited China since the country reopened earlier this year, but most have met government ministers.
Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board in 2020 to focus on philanthropy in the areas of global health, education and climate change.
According to reports, the last time Xi and Gates met was in 2015, when they met during the Boao Forum in Hainan province. In early 2020, Xi Jinping wrote to Gates thanking him and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their pledge of assistance to China, including $5 million to fight COVID-19.
Xi also discussed the global rise of artificial intelligence (AI) with Bill Gates and said he welcomes U.S. companies, including Microsoft, to bring their AI technology to China, two sources familiar with the talks said.
They also discussed Microsoft’s business development in China, one of the sources said.
Common development, no hegemony
The foreign business community has become more wary of China as tensions between China and the United States have risen and Xi Jinping has raised the country’s focus on national security.
Gates’ visit comes ahead of a long-delayed trip to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, aimed at stabilizing relations between the world’s two largest economies and strategic rivals.
On Wednesday, Blinken had a tense phone call with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who urged the United States to stop interfering in Chinese affairs and endangering its security.
According to the People’s Daily, during the meeting with Gates, Xi Jinping said that China will not follow the old path of “powerful countries seeking hegemony” but will develop together with other countries. China often accuses the United States of pursuing hegemony.
In addition to meeting Xi, Gates also gave a speech at the Institute for Global Health Drug Discovery on the need to use technology to solve global health challenges during his visit.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Beijing Municipal Government, which co-founded the institute with Tsinghua University, have also pledged $50 million each to strengthen the institute’s drug discovery capabilities.