Xi Calling Bill Gates 'An Old Friend' Is Not a Compliment: Expert

Xi Calling Bill Gates 'An Old Friend' Is Not a Compliment: Expert
Bill Gates (L) meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on June 16, 2023. (Yin Bogu/Xinhua via AP)
Tiffany Meier

Chinese leader Xi Jinping on June 16 met with Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates in Beijing, where he called Gates "an old friend.” But the term is not complimentary, according to Jon Pelson, author of “Wireless Wars, China’s Dangerous Domination of 5G and How We’re Fighting Back.”

In a meeting at Beijing's Diaoyutai state guest house, where China's leaders have traditionally received senior foreign visitors, Xi said he was very happy to see the Microsoft co-founder 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 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 "honored" to have the chance to meet. "We've always had great conversations and we'll have a lot of important topics to discuss today ... it's very exciting to be back."

Pelson told “China in Focus” on NTD, The Epoch Times' sister media outlet, that “‘a friend of China’ is a term that is not actually a complimentary term in most of the people in the community. ... A friend of China is someone who is on board with China's objectives and goals, is aligned and in harmony with what China is trying to achieve.

“And there are many people that are well-regarded in military and political affairs, when they are co-opted ... when they're compromised. In some of them when it's just the ego stroking and the alignment, which is probably what the case is with Bill Gates, they become a friend of China. It's not necessarily a good thing, because when you look at who you're aligning yourself with. It's really a friend of the CCP is what they mean, not a friend to the Chinese people,” he added.

Pelson said it's disturbing but not surprising to see Bill Gates embracing a huge authoritarian government whose philosophy is: "We're smarter and better and will tell people what to do and it's for your own good.”

Different Agenda

Meanwhile, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday kicked off two days of high-stakes diplomatic talks in Beijing after months of urging from the Biden administration for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to reestablish normal bilateral communications.

Blinken opened his trip by meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang for an extended discussion to be followed by a working dinner. He has additional talks with Qin, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, and Xi on Monday.

Pelson said that the communist regime has different agendas for the government side and business side.

In his opinion, Bill Gates is in the country as “an ally in many of the causes that China is looking to advance.”

“They've always known that the businesses in capitalist societies are there to make profits. And so whether it's Jamie Dimon, whether it's his colleagues on Wall Street [who] have always been much closer aligned with the CCP's kind of working rules, those are people that want to seduce with their own desires for financial returns,” he said.

“And the government side is just very different. It's not pursuing, even though commerce wants growing markets for American suppliers and good markets for vendors to America, there's a very different agenda for the government,” he added.

Deliberate Supply Chain Disruptions

According to Pelson, companies dependent on China risk deliberate disruptions of the supply chain.

“If you're buying stuff from China, you don't have to worry if they have a way to disrupt your supply chain, they are your supply chain. And all they have to do is just stop supplying you. If it's pharmaceuticals or precursor ingredients for pharmaceuticals, if it's electronics ... whatever the components or technology or finished products are, if you're getting it from China and you need it, then you've made yourself vulnerable,” he said.

“So we have to make sure that we have diversity in our supply chains. And we're not reliant on someone who sees us as an enemy. We still see them either as a rival or a competitor or some as an enemy. They look at us as an enemy, we can't give them that kind of control over our own economy and our lives.”

Reuters and Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.
Hannah Ng is a reporter covering U.S. and China news. She holds a master's degree in international and development economics from the University of Applied Science Berlin.