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Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates will reportedly meet China’s Xi this week

Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, during the EEI 2023 event in Austin, Texas, US, on Monday, June 12, 2023.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft‘s co-founder Bill Gates will be meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, Reuters reported Wednesday citing two sources familiar with the matter.

The meeting will be Xi’s first with a foreign CEO in recent years, the report said, as the Chinese leader stopped travelling overseas for almost three years after China shut its borders during the pandemic.

It could be a one-on-one meeting, Reuters said without revealing details on what they might discuss.

CNBC reached out to China’s ministry of foreign affairs but did not hear back at the time of publication.

The two men met in 2015 on the sidelines of the Boao forum, a gathering for political and business leaders, held in Hainan province. They discussed views on enhancing public health service and poverty reduction, according to China’s foreign ministry.

Gates tweeted Wednesday, saying he had landed in Beijing to “visit with partners who have been working on global health and development challenges” for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is his first visit since 2019.

The billionaire stepped down as Microsoft’s board chair in March 2020 to “dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities including global health, development, education, and his increasing engagement in tackling climate change.” He left his full-time executive role at Microsoft in 2008.

Gates’ visit comes ahead of a long-awaited trip by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China this weekend, aimed at stabilizing relations between the two largest economies in the world.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Blinken spoke Wednesday and “discussed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication” in order to manage the U.S.-China relationship and “avoid miscalculation and conflict,” the U.S. State Department said.

Other foreign tech leaders — such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Tesla CEO Elon Musk — have met with Chinese ministers in recent months.

In March, Cook met China’s minister of commerce Wang Wentao to discuss China’s reopening and broader supply chain issues. Musk met with Chinese vice premier Ding Xuexiang and other top officials in China in May, as Beijing looks to portray a friendly business environment for foreign companies amid tensions with the U.S. government.

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