Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Bill Gates in a rare encounter with a US businessman on Friday, when Washington officials were due to arrive in Beijing to resume bilateral talks.
Xi told Gates that he was “the first American friend I met in Beijing this year,” according to the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily. Xi also said he would like to strengthen ties with Gates’ charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to help aid aid to developing countries.
The Gates Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.
It will be Gates’ first visit to China since 2019 and coincides with Antony J. Brinken’s first visit as secretary of state. It is unclear whether Mr. Blinken, who arrives on Sunday, will meet Mr. Xi.
Brinken was scheduled to visit China in February, but the trip was canceled after a Chinese spy balloon intruded into US airspace, sparking a diplomatic crisis in Washington.
Since Xi abruptly lifted long-running “zero-corona” restrictions in December, U.S. business leaders including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook subsequently returned to China. (The two have never met Mr. Xi.)
China’s draconian pandemic policy had shut down large parts of its borders, preventing meetings between multinational executives and top Chinese leaders. Xi visited Central Asia last September, his first time outside the country in more than two years.
Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people in the world, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday to visit his foundation’s health and development partners, he said. Said on Twitter.
This was not the first meeting between Gates and Xi.They met during an event in March 2015 annual meeting He met with foreign officials and business leaders in Hainan, and later that year in Seattle during Mr. Xi’s first state visit to the United States. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi sent the following message: letter Thanks for Donating to Gates and His Foundation money To fight the pandemic in China.
Gates maintains ties with China through the Gates Foundation, recently pledging $50 million in new partnerships with the Beijing Municipal Government and top Chinese universities. He began leaving Microsoft in 2008, spending much of his time on philanthropy, and retired from Microsoft’s board in 2020. He remains Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder with a stake worth about $35 billion, according to financial data firm FactSet. .