June 19, 2023: On Friday, Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates is planning to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping, citing two references familiar with the matter.
The report stated that the meeting would be Xi’s initial with a foreign CEO in the latest years, as the Chinese leader stopped traveling overseas for about three years after China shut its borders during the pandemic.
Reuters said it could be a one-on-one meeting without revealing details on what they might discuss.
The two men completed it in 2015 on the sidelines of the Boao forum, a gathering held in Hainan province for political and business leaders. According to China’s foreign ministry, they discussed views on enhancing general health services and poverty reduction.
On Wednesday, Bill Gates tweeted, saying he had landed in Beijing to “visit with partners who have been working on international health and development challenges” for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is his first visit since 2019.
The billionaire stepped down as Microsoft’s board chair in March 2020 to “dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities, which include global health, growth, education, and improving engagement in tackling climate change.” He left his full-time executive role at Microsoft in 2008.
Gates’ visit comes ahead of a long-awaited trip by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China this weekend, aimed at stabilizing relations between the two largest economies in the world.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Blinken spoke Wednesday and “discussed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication” to manage the U.S.-China relationship and “avoid miscalculation and conflict,” the U.S. State Department said.
In March, Cook met China’s Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentao, to discuss China’s reopening and broader supply chain issues. Musk met with Chinese vice premier Ding Xuexiang and other top officials in China in May as Beijing portrays a friendly business climate for foreign businesses amid tensions with the U.S. government.