Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed improving U.S.-China relations with his “old friend” Bill Gates in Beijing on Friday.
The meeting: Xi gave Gates a warm welcome and called on the co-founder of Microsoft to help promote both countries’ relations.
“I am very happy to see you. We haven’t seen each other for more than three years … and you are an old friend of ours,” Xi said, adding that Gates is “the first American friend [he’s] seen this year.”
The meeting, which is known to be Xi’s first meeting with a Western entrepreneur in years, took place at Beijing’s Diaoyutai state guest house, where the two discussed global health, development challenges and the global rise of artificial intelligence.
“I often say the foundation of the U.S.-China relations lies with its people. I place my hopes on the American people,” Xi was quoted saying. “With the current global situation, we can carry out various activities beneficial to our two countries and people, activities that benefit humanity as a whole.”
$50 million pledge: The meeting comes after Gates’ family foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged $50 million to support medical research in China for drug discovery and treatments of infectious diseases.
According to Gates, his foundation is committed to joint action with China in innovation, global poverty reduction, public health and pharmaceutical research. Xi also noted China will not follow the path of a “strong country seeking hegemony,” but will work with other countries to achieve common development.
Stabilizing relations: Gates’ visit also comes two days ahead of a long-delayed trip to China by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken amid bilateral tensions. Blinken, who previously postponed his trip due to the Chinese “spy balloon” saga, is set to be the first cabinet-level official in the Biden administration to travel to the East Asian country.
The meeting is aimed to stabilize relations after China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang told the U.S. to stop interfering in its affairs.