It was one of those meetings that marked a milestone in history as Microsoft founder Bill Gates met with Chinese president Xi Jinping during the former’s first trip to China since 2019.

During the meeting held on Friday, June 16th, Xi expressed a willingness on the part of his country to work with the global community to develop technological solutions to a number of pressing issues, including preventing the spread of diseases like COVID-19.

Xi likewise remarked that Gates was the first American friend he had encountered in Beijing this year, and that he hoped that the US and China would continue to be on friendly terms despite current issues regarding global security as well as territorial disputes with other nations.

The meeting between Gates and Xi has revived hopes that the latter will meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who, as of press time, is on an official visit to the Chinese capital. 

Blinken’s visit, an event that has been rescheduled several times, aims to fix things between the US and China in light of how the shooting down of a supposed Chinese spy balloon earlier this year led to the cancellation of several bilateral meetings.

What’s Gates Doing in China?

Meanwhile, Gates’ presence in China is part of his catch-up with global partners with whom the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are working with to work on global challenges related to public health and national development.

In a tweet posted on Wednesday, June 14th, announcing his arrival in China, Gates remarked that he looked forward to meeting up with partner institutions. Through the Foundation, the tech mogul and the local government of Beijing have agreed to donate $50 million each to the fight against infectious diseases by way of the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute. 

Established in 2016 to research cures on malaria and other diseases, the Institute was founded by the Gates Foundation, Beijing’s local government, and Tsinghua University.