During his recent visit to China, Microsoft founder Bill Gates met with Xi Jinping on June 16, making him the first foreign entrepreneur to meet with the Chinese Head of State in several years.
The tone of the meeting was convivial, with both sides expressing mutual admiration and hope for continued cooperation in confronting global challenges. Xi said, “I often say the foundation of U.S.-China relations lies with its people. I place my hopes on the American people and hope that the friendship between the two peoples will continue.,”. Xi also referred to Gates as an “old friend”, and said he is the “first American friend” he has seen this year.
A visit from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had originally been scheduled for February this year but was called off after the “spy balloon” incident raised tensions. Amid a tentative thaw in US-China relations, Blinken is currently visiting China and met with Xi on June 19.
On China’s Twitter equivalent Weibo, the hashtag “Xi Jinping meets with Bill Gates” has been viewed over 100 million times in the four days since the meeting took place. Responses toward the visit were positive, with Weibo commenters echoing Xi’s goodwill with simple statements like “win-win cooperation” and “welcome American friend”. The visit did now draw as much attention as Elon Musk’s visit two weeks ago, which saw the Tesla CEO treated like an idol by the Chinese public.
During his visit, Gates also gave a speech at the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute, which was founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with Tsinghua University and the Beijing Municipal Government in 2016. Gates praised China’s achievements in poverty reduction and said he hoped China will play a greater role in aiding African countries towards that same goal. Following the speech, the Foundation pledged a further 50 million USD of investment to the institute over the next five years.