Chinese President Xi Jinping meets ’old friend’ Bill Gates, says ’China always placed hopes in American people’

Chinese leader Xi Jinping met Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in Beijing. Xi said China had always placed its hopes in the American people, and hoped for an enduring friendship.

Edited By Karishma Pranav Bhavsar
Updated16 Jun 2023, 01:10 PM IST
President Xi Jinping met Bill Gates in Beijing.  (Photo by AFP)
President Xi Jinping met Bill Gates in Beijing. (Photo by AFP)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping who met Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates today said China had always placed its hopes in the American people after the Microsoft co-founder's foundation pledged $50 million to help Chinese efforts to battle disease. He added that the foundation of China-US relations lies with the people, and hopes for an enduring friendship, state media has reported.

"You are the first American friend I have met in Beijing this year," Xi told Gates in Beijing, according to the state-run People's Daily. "We have always placed our hopes on the American people, and hoped for continued friendship between the peoples of the two countries," Xi added.

Also Read: Biden administration official confirms China had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019: Report

He further said, "You are someone who has done a lot of good things in your participation in China's development work, and you are our old friend."

Gates in turn said that he was honoured to have this chance to meet, according to a recording of the meeting shared by state broadcaster CCTV as reported by AFP.

“We've always had great conversations and we'll have a lot of important topics to discuss today. I was very disappointed I couldn't come during these last four years, and so it's very exciting to be back," he said.

A state media readout also quoted Gates as praising China's efforts in "tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, setting a good example for the world".

The meeting comes days after an announcement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday said that it would give $50 million to support Chinese efforts to fight malaria and tuberculosis. The foundation announced it would renew a collaboration with the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI) -- a Beijing-based group set up by Gates, the Beijing municipal government and Tsinghua University.

The $50 million will support "efforts to improve health outcomes worldwide through lifesaving therapies for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, which disproportionately affect the world's poorest", the Gates Foundation said in a statement. On Thursday, Gates during a speech at GHDDI hailed China's efforts in eradicating malaria and poverty reduction. "China has made significant gains reducing poverty and improving health outcomes within China," Gates said. "I'm hopeful China can play an even bigger role in addressing the current challenges, particularly those facing African countries."

This is Gates' first to China in four years. One of the world's richest men, Gates, is among a number of Western business leaders to visit China since the country ended strict Covid controls that largely closed it off from the world for almost three years.

Gates last visited China in 2019, where he met with first lady Peng Liyuan to discuss his foundation's work in HIV/AIDS prevention. The last reported meeting between Xi and Gates was in 2015, when they met on the sidelines of the Boao forum in Hainan province. 

In early 2020, Xi wrote a letter to Gates thanking him and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for pledging assistance to China including $5 million for the country's fight against COVID-19.

Meawhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to travel to China next week as the Biden administration pushes to improve ties that hit a new low in February after a Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down over US airspace.

U.S. officials said that Blinken expects to be in Beijing on June 18 for meetings with senior Chinese officials, including with Foreign Minister Qin Gang and possibly President Xi Jinping. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the State Department nor the Chinese foreign ministry has yet confirmed the trip.

The visit, which was agreed between Xi and President Joe Biden last year at a meeting in Bali, had been initially planned for February but was postponed after the spy balloon incident

(With inputs from agencies)

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First Published:16 Jun 2023, 01:10 PM IST
HomeNewsWorldChinese President Xi Jinping meets ’old friend’ Bill Gates, says ’China always placed hopes in American people’

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