Against the backdrop of escalating tensions between China and the United States, Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This encounter took place amidst a series of visits to China by “high-profile” American business leaders following the reopening of Chinese borders.
During their meeting, President Xi referred to Gates as “the first American friend” he had met in Beijing that year, as reported by Chinese state media. This marks President Xi’s first meeting with a foreign business figure in recent years, as he refrained from international travel in 2020 due to the pandemic. Their previous meeting took place in 2015.
Notable figures such as Elon Musk of Tesla, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan, and Tim Cook of Apple have also visited China this year. While they held meetings with senior Chinese officials, they did not have the opportunity to meet with President Xi directly. Gates, in his capacity as co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a non-profit organisation he established with his former wife, is currently in China.
Since stepping down from Microsoft’s board in 2020 to focus on the foundation’s initiatives in global education, climate change, and health, Gates has been actively involved in philanthropic efforts.”
In the midst of these developments, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit China this weekend. However, expectations for significant progress on the numerous disputes between the US and China are low. Blinken’s visit marks the first time a US cabinet official has travelled to China since 2019, highlighting the strained relations between the two countries.
In 2019, Gates visited China and met with the “first lady,” Peng Liyuan, to discuss efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS under the “Gates Foundation.”