- Xi Jinping called Bill Gates an “old friend” when the pair met this week.
- Xi added Gates was the “first American friend” he’d met in Beijing this year.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $50 million to battle infectious diseases.
China’s president Xi Jinping labeled Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates an “old friend” when they met in Beijing this week.
State-controlled CCTV filmed the interaction between the pair, in which they touched on topics such as global poverty reduction, public health, and drug development, per its report.
It was the first time Xi and Gates had met in more than three years, and it was his first trip to China’s capital since before the pandemic struck, according to CNN.
“You’re the first American friend I’ve met in Beijing this year,” Xi said to Gates — who was known for having prophesized a potential global pandemic — in an apparent nod to renewed travel abilities after pandemic restrictions were lifted, according to CCTV.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Beijing had previously announced they would donate $50 million apiece to battling infectious diseases in low and middle-income countries.
China was hit hard by the pandemic and imposed long and oppressive lockdowns as part of its “zero-COVID” policy. Xi then abandoned that stance and reopened China’s borders in January to combat weak economic growth.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $5 million to China in January 2020 to help first-line responders battle the virus.
The meeting comes at a time of rising tensions between China and the US, while concerns over the long-term sustainability of China’s economy mount. China is contending with an impending demographic crisis and rising tensions with key export partners.
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