President Xi Jinping said China is willing to work with the world on technology innovation and global challenges including pandemic prevention during a meeting with American billionaire Bill Gates.
“You are the first American friend I’ve met in Beijing this year,” Xi told the Microsoft Corp. co-founder on Friday, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.
“I’ve always said that the foundation of China-US ties lies among the people,” the Chinese leader added. “We always pin our hopes on American people and hope the two peoples can continue to be friendly.”
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and Foreign Secretary Qin Gang attended the meeting.
Xi’s sit down with Gates raises expectations for the Chinese leader to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who is set to visit Beijing on a two-day trip from Sunday. That rescheduled visit aims to reset ties between the world’s largest economies, after a spat over an alleged Chinese spy balloon derailed high-level exchanges earlier this year.
Earlier, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Beijing city government agreed to donate $50 million each to fight infectious diseases such as malaria. The money will go to the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute, according to a statement from the Gates Foundation. The institute is a nonprofit established in 2016 by the Gates Foundation, the Beijing municipal government and Tsinghua University.
I’ve just landed in Beijing for the first time since 2019, where I’m excited to visit with partners who have been working on global health and development challenges with @gatesfoundation for more than 15 years.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) June 14, 2023
In a speech Thursday at the institute, Gates congratulated China for eliminating malaria within its borders. He also praised Chinese scientists for working to fight the disease around the world, according to the Gates Foundation.
Gates also met Beijing Mayor Yin Yong on Thursday, according to the Beijing Daily. Yin credited the institute with achieving “breakthroughs” in recent years and vowed continued support.
In a tweet Wednesday announcing his arrival in Beijing, Gates said he was “excited to visit with partners who have been working on global health and development challenges” with the Gates Foundation.