Bill Gates Meets China's Xi After $50M Donation to CCP University That Does Military Research

Bill Gates (Getty Images)
BEIJING—Bill Gates met with Chinese president Xi Jinping one day after the liberal billionaire unveiled a $50 million partnership with a Chinese Communist Party-controlled university that conducts research for the nation's military.
Xi called Gates "an old friend" during the meeting at Beijing's Diaoyutai state guest house, where China's leaders have traditionally received senior foreign visitors. The Friday encounter was Xi's first meeting with a foreign entrepreneur in years and came just one day after Gates announced a $50 million research partnership with Tsinghua University, which trains students for China's nuclear weapons program, holds "secret-level security credentials" for classified military research, and has allegedly carried out cyberattacks for the Chinese government, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Gates through his collaboration with Tsinghua will carry out drug discovery research, which involves studying potent viruses.
Xi, who graduated from Tsinghua in in 2002 with a degree in Marxist theory, said during the meeting he was very happy to see the Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist after three years and that Gates was the first American friend he had met this year.

"I often say the foundation of U.S.-China relations lies with its people. I place my hopes on the American people," a video published by state broadcaster CCTV showed Xi as saying.
"With the current global situation, we can carry out various activities beneficial to our two countries and people, activities that benefit humanity as a whole," he said.

Gates, who arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, said he was "honoured" to have the chance to meet. "We've always had great conversations and we'll have lot of important topics to discuss today ... it's very exciting to be back."

In a post on his personal blog, Gates said he and Xi had discussed global health and development challenges such as health inequity and climate change.

Xi stopped travelling abroad for nearly three years as China shut its borders during the coronavirus pandemic and his international meetings since the reopening have mostly been with other state leaders.

A number of CEOs have visited China since it reopened early this year, but most have met with government ministers.


Gates stepped down from Microsoft's board in 2020 to focus on philanthropy in the fields of global health, education and climate change, a pursuit that has seen the billionaire send millions of dollars to Chinese government agencies. 

The last reported meeting between Xi and Gates was in 2015, when they met on the sidelines of the Boao forum in Hainan province. In early 2020, Xi wrote to Gates thanking him and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for pledging assistance to China, including $5 million for its fight against COVID-19.
Xi also discussed the global rise of artificial intelligence (AI) with Bill Gates and said he welcomed U.S. firms including Microsoft bringing their AI tech to China, two sources familiar with the talks said.

One of the sources said they also discussed Microsoft's business development in China.


The mood of the foreign business community towards China has turned more cautious as Sino-U.S. tensions intensify and Xi increases China's focus on national security.

Gates' visit comes ahead of a long-delayed trip to China by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken aimed at stabilizing relations between the world's two largest economies and strategic rivals.

Blinken had a tense call with China's foreign minister Qin Gang on Wednesday, during which Qin urged the United States to stop meddling in its affairs and harming its security.


During his meeting with Gates, Xi said China would not follow the old path of a "strong country seeking hegemony" but would work with other countries to achieve common development, according to the People's Daily newspaper, a Chinese Communist Party propaganda rag. China often accuses the United States of pursuing hegemony.