Xi Jinping calls Bill Gates an ‘old friend’ after Microsoft co-founder donates $50m to help China fight disease

Bill Gates and Xi Xinping meet in Beijing - Yin Bogu/Xinhua

Bill Gates and Xi Xinping meet in Beijing – Yin Bogu/Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping called Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates an ‘old friend’ as they met in Beijing, following the US business tycoon’s $50m (£40m) pledge ) to help China fight the disease.

The Chinese leader held a rare meeting with Gates during his trip to the country’s capital on Friday, part of his first visit to China in four years.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Thursday that the donation would be used to support Chinese efforts against malaria and tuberculosis.

Xi told the businessman, “We have always pinned our hopes on the American people and hoped for continued friendship between the peoples of the two countries.”

He added that Mr Gates, one of the world’s richest men, was “the first American I met in Beijing this year”, according to the state-run People’s Daily newspaper.

Mr Gates responded by telling the president he was “very honored to have this chance to meet”, as heard in a recording shared by state broadcaster CCTV.

He also hailed China’s efforts to “combat the Covid-19 pandemic, setting a good example to the world”, according to state media.

He added that he was “very disappointed” not to have visited the country in the past four years, and that it was “very exciting” to be back in China.

Mr. Gates’ foundation announced that it would renew a collaboration with the Beijing-based Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI), which he established with the Beijing municipal government and Tsinghua University.

The Gates Foundation said in a statement that the funding would support “efforts to improve global health outcomes through life-saving therapies for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, which disproportionately affect the poorest. of the world”.

Gates delivered a speech at GHDDI on Thursday, in which he said China had “made significant gains in reducing poverty and improving health outcomes in China”, according to the foundation.

He added, “I hope China can play an even greater role in addressing current challenges, especially those facing African countries.”

The meeting between Mr. Gates and Mr. Xi comes ahead of the planned visit to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday, during which the two countries will “exchange their views on China-US relations and the major international and regional issues of common interest”. “, according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said in a regular briefing on Friday that “China will convey its position and concerns on China-US relations and resolutely safeguard its interests.”

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