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

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MicrosoftCo-founder Bill Gates will meet 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 chief executive in recent years, the report said. The Chinese leader stopped traveling abroad for nearly three years after China closed its borders during the pandemic.

Reuters said that the meeting may be held in private, without disclosing details of what they might discuss.

CNBC has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs but has not received a response at the time of publication.

The two men met in 2015 On the sidelines of the Boao Forum, a gathering of political and business leaders, was held in Hainan Province. The Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that they discussed views on strengthening public health service and reducing poverty.

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

The billionaire stepped down as chairman of Microsoft’s board in March 2020 to “devote more time to his philanthropic priorities including global health, development, education, and his growing involvement in addressing climate change.” He left his full-time executive job at Microsoft in 2008.

Gates’ visit comes ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s long-awaited visit to China this weekend, which aims to stabilize relations between the world’s two largest economies.

Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang and Blinken spoke on Wednesday and “discussed the importance of maintaining open lines of communication” in order to manage US-China relations and “avoid miscalculation and conflict.” The US State Department said.

Other foreign technology leaders – eg apple CEO Tim Cook W Tesla CEO Elon Musk – Chinese ministers have met in recent months.

In March, Cook met with Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao to discuss China’s reopening and broader supply chain issues. Musk met 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 US government.


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