Bill Gates joins stream of US billionaires visiting China, as Washington's decoupling push hits bump
Published: Jun 15, 2023 01:48 AM
Bill Gates at Global Investment Summit (GIS) 2021 at the Science Museum in London, UK, on October 19, 2021. Photo: VCG

Bill Gates at Global Investment Summit (GIS) 2021 at the Science Museum in London, UK, on October 19, 2021. Photo: VCG

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has arrived in Beijing for a visit to China, joining a stream of foreign executives visiting China in search of cooperation, even as the US and some of its allies continue to adopt a hostile approach to contain China's rise.

Immediately after arriving in Beijing on Wednesday night, Gates posted a message on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, saying that he was excited to visit partners who have been working on global health and development challenges with the Gates Foundation for more than 15 years.

"Solving problems like climate change, health inequity and food insecurity requires innovation. From developing malaria drugs to investing in climate adaptation, China has a lot of experience in that. We need to unlock that kind of progress for more people around the world," Gates wrote.

Gates' arrival in Beijing was met with excitement among Chinese fans on social media. Underneath Gates' post on Sina Weibo, many extended a warm welcome. "[Gates] has always been friendly to China… welcome! When friends visit us, we welcome them with fine wine," one social media user commented.

This is Gates' first visit to China since 2019. Before Gates' arrival, many top US executives also visited China. At the end of last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited Beijing and Shanghai, during which he met senior Chinese officials, drawing great interest in China and boosting Tesla's share price in the US.

In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook also visited China in a high-profile trip. "Every time I come to China, I learn stuff, I take something back with me. It's primarily about the culture," Cook said.

Cook's trip, coming just days after TikTok's CEO faced US lawmakers at a hearing, drew a stark contrast between China's open arms to foreign businesses and the US' hostility toward Chinese firms.

Gates' trip also comes as US officials are seeking dialogue with their Chinese counterparts, with their hostile approach having escalated China-US tensions to levels that worry many businesses around the world and countries and regions aspiring to peace and stability. After weeks of media hype, it was announced on Wednesday night that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit Beijing from June 18 to 19.

Before the announcement on Wednesday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang spoke with Blinken over the phone, urging the US to take concrete actions to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state at the Group of 20 Bali summit, and honor the relevant commitments it has made.

Global Times