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Bill Gates meets Xi Jinping in first visit to China since 2019

In a rare encounter with an American business figure, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, met with Bill Gates on Friday as the Washington official was due to arrive in Beijing in an effort to restart bilateral discussions.

Mr Xi told Mr Gates he was “the first American friend he has met in Beijing this year”, according to the Communist Party’s People’s Daily. Mr. Xi also said he wanted to forge stronger ties with Mr. Gates’ philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to aid developing countries.

The Gates Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Gates’ visit to China, his first since 2019, Antony J. Blinken’s visit, his first since becoming Secretary of State. It was not clear whether Mr. Blinken would meet Mr. Xi when he arrived on Sunday.

Mr. Blinken intended to go to China in February, a trip Cancelled A diplomatic crisis erupted in Washington after a Chinese spy balloon intruded into US airspace.

Since Mr Xi abruptly lifted a long period of “zero Covid” restrictions in December, a range of US business leaders have returned to China, including Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook . (Neither of them met Mr. Xi.)

China’s strict pandemic policies had largely closed the country’s borders, preventing meetings between multinational officials and China’s top leaders. A Mr. Xi’s visit to Central Asia Last September, he left the country for the first time in more than two years.

Microsoft co-founder and one of the world’s richest men, Mr Gates, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday to meet with his foundation’s health and development partners. Said on Twitter.

This was not the first meeting of Mr. Gates and Mr. Xi. They met in March 2015 during a annual conference foreign dignitaries and business leaders in the island province of Hainan, and in Seattle later that year when Mr Xi was in the US first state visit, In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Xi sent a Letter Thanking Mr. Gates for donating to him and his foundation Wealth To fight the epidemic of China.

Mr. Gates maintains ties to China through the Gates Foundation, recently pledging $50 million to a renewed partnership with the Beijing municipal government and a top Chinese university. He began stepping away from Microsoft in 2008, devoting more of his time to his philanthropic projects, and Left Microsoft board of directors in 2020, according to financial data company FactSet. He remains Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder with stock worth approximately $35 billion.

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