Bill Gates’ visit to China is his first to the country in four years.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday after his foundation pledged $50 million to help Chinese efforts to fight malaria and tuberculosis, as per Chinese media.
“On June 16, President Xi Jinping met the American Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chairperson Bill Gates in Beijing,” state broadcaster CCTV said.
Calling Bill Gates an “old friend”, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said China had always placed its hopes in the American people.
“We have always placed our hopes on the American people, and hoped for continued friendship between the peoples of the two countries,” Xi added.
On his part, Gates said he was “very honored to have this chance to meet,” according to a recording of the meeting shared by state broadcaster CCTV.
“We’ve always had great conversations and we’ll have a lot of important topics to discuss today,” he said.
“I was very disappointed I couldn’t come during these last four years, and so it’s very exciting to be back.”
Gates also praised China’s efforts in “tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, setting a good example for the world,” as per a state media readout.
One of the richest men in the world, Gates is among the Western business leaders who have visited China since the nation lifted the severe Covid restrictions.
The visit will include a rare sit-down between the Chinese head of state and a foreign business leader, as per Chinese state media.
The meeting took place before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s anticipated trip to China on Sunday.
It also follows a Thursday announcement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that it would give $50 million to provide Chinese efforts to eliminate malaria and tuberculosis.
The Foundation declared it would renew cooperation with the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI) — a Beijing-based group set up by Gates, the Beijing municipal government, in addition to 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 addressed GHDDI, the Gates Foundation said, praising China’s efforts in fighting 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,” he added.
It is worth noting that Gates last headed to China in 2019, where he met with First Lady Peng Liyuan to tackle his foundation’s work in HIV/AIDS prevention.
This year, a number of American business executives have traveled to China, praising its sizable market and the strong trade links that exist between the two global economic giants.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon visited China in recent weeks, as did Tesla CEO Elon Musk; his first visit in more than three years.
In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Beijing, stressing his company enjoyed “symbiotic” ties with China.