Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has heaped praise on his “American friend” Bill Gates during a meeting between the two men in China.
Gates responded by saying that it was “very exciting” to be back in China and he was “honored” to meet with the communist dictator.
Gates met with Xi this week, alongside Chinese Foreign Secretary Qin Gang and Chief Chinese diplomat Wang Yi.
According to Bloomberg, Xi and Gates discussed pandemic prevention and technological development.
“You are the first American friend I’ve met in Beijing this year,” Xi told Gates.
Their discussion was broadcast on China Central Television, a state-controlled broadcaster.
“I’ve always said that the foundation of China-U.S. ties lies among the people,” Xi said.
“We always pin our hopes on [the] American people and hope the two peoples can continue to be friendly.”
Xi and Bill Gates meet in Beijing.
Xi: "You are the first American friend I’ve met in Beijing this year."
Gates: "I'm very excited to be back." pic.twitter.com/UQoV40XKbF
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) June 16, 2023
The two also reportedly discussed artificial intelligence, though what was exactly said has not yet been disclosed.
Gates said on Twitter that he was in China to meet with partners working on “global health and development challenges.”
“I’ve just landed in Beijing for the first time since 2019, where I’m excited to visit with partners who have been working on global health and development challenges with [the Gates Foundation] for more than 15 years,” he said.
Gates went on to say that much could be learned from China on issues of poverty and health.
“Solving problems like climate change, health inequity and food insecurity requires innovation,” he said.
“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.”
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.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) June 14, 2023
Gates, who has praised China before, has come under fire after Microsoft was accused of aiding in the censorship of Chinese dissidents.
In 2005, Microsoft banned Chinese journalist Zhao Jing after a request from the CCP, according to Amnesty International.
Gates has also downplayed the scope of Chinese censorship.
The meeting between Xi and Gates comes before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to travel to China.
A previous trip from Blinken to China was canceled after a Chinese spy balloon floated over the U.S.
“While in Beijing, Secretary Blinken will meet with senior PRC officials where he will discuss the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage the U.S.-PRC relationship,” the State Department said in a statement.
“He will also raise bilateral issues of concern, global and regional matters, and potential cooperation on shared transnational challenges.”
Blinken’s visit follows the secret trip made by CIA Director William Burns in May.