Beijing, China: Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates will meet President Xi Jinping on Friday, after his foundation pledged $50 million to help Chinese efforts to battle disease.
Gates — one of the world’s richest men — is one of a number of Western business leaders to visit China since the country ended strict Covid controls that saw it largely closed off from the world for almost three years.
One of the world’s richest men and most prominent philanthropists, the visit is his first to the country in four years.
Chinese state media said Friday the visit will include a rare sit-down between the Chinese head of state and a foreign business leader.
“On June 16, President Xi Jinping will meet in Beijing with Bill Gates, head of the Gates Foundation,” state broadcaster CCTV said.
The meeting comes ahead of an expected visit to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday.
It also follows a Thursday announcement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that it would give $50 million to support Chinese efforts to fight malaria and tuberculosis.
The foundation announced it would renew a collaboration with the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI) — a Beijing-based group set up by Gates, the Beijing municipal government and Tsinghua University.
The $50 million will support “efforts to improve health outcomes worldwide through lifesaving therapies for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, which disproportionately affect the world’s poorest”, the Gates Foundation said in a statement.
On Thursday, Gates gave a speech at GHDDI, the Gates Foundation said, hailing China’s efforts in eradicating malaria and poverty reduction.
“China has made significant gains reducing poverty and improving health outcomes within China,” Gates said.
“I’m hopeful China can play an even bigger role in addressing the current challenges, particularly those facing African countries.”
Gates last visited China in 2019, where he met with first lady Peng Liyuan to discuss his foundation’s work in HIV/AIDS prevention.
During a visit to the country the previous year, he brandished a jar of human waste at a forum in Beijing in a bid to draw attention to the shortage of toilets in the developing world.
A string of American business leaders have visited China this year, talking up their optimism about its vast market and trade ties between the two economic powerhouses.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon visited China in recent weeks, as did Tesla CEO Elon Musk, his first visit in more than three years.
Musk, who has extensive business interests in China, met with senior officials in Beijing and visited Tesla’s Gigafactory on the outskirts of Shanghai for a late-night meeting with staff.