Bill Gates, American business magnate, philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently gave an exclusive interview to the People’s Daily out of his busy schedule before he licks off a Chinese visit.
Q: Thank you very much for your time. I hear that you will visit China soon. The first time you visited China was in 1994, still remember your first impression of China?
A: Every time I go, you know China’s advancing, whether it’s the buildings, or the people we are meeting with, or the technology. So it’s been exciting to keep going back and see how quickly it’s improving.
Q: You’ve made so many trips to China over the years. What do you think is the most significant change that has taken place in China?
A: I’d say two things. One is the miracle of Chinese economic development, lifting people out of poverty, building up the infrastructure, and developing world-class universities.
I remember almost every year somebody says, well now the China boom will reach its limits. And then 3 years later, they’ll say it’s reached its limits…Of course, even today there’s some strains and challenges, but still the growth is lifting people up. And it’s quite impressive.
The second thing I’d say is that China is embracing its role in the world more. Of course its first priority was the poverty in the country, but in parallel to that now China has joined the World Trade Organization, and China’s made really big commitments to Africa, both financially and about partnership. And in the region, the Belt & Road project is about tying together the economies for mutual benefit. So all of that has been exciting to see.
Q: What’s the strategic focus of the Gates Foundation in China? How do you see China’s role in global development and governance?
A: The work of the Gates Foundation in China has two phases. One is the work in China itself, helping people with HIV, helping avoid people getting infected, working on tuberculosis and smoking (control).
Our second phase is a three-way partnership, where developing countries, China and the foundation find ways to work together. And taking some (of China’s) strengths like livestock vaccines; rice, including super green rice, where China’s very strong. So, (there’re) many examples. Ethiopia is a good example, where funding animal vaccine projects are what we are working on together. A group called CAD Fund is the local Chinese partner.
So the commitment to help other parts of the world is very important. That’s something that historically the U.S. has been very good at, but I’d be disappointed if the US cuts back. But it’s fantastic that China, because of its success, is joining in and in its unique way. So I am glad to see the leadership. For example,the $60 billion commitment made in Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to help the African countries is a realistic acceleration under China’s leadership.
The Chinese partnership will go and help to accelerate that improvement. And there are many lessons and things that China did very, very well, in the agricultural economy and manufacturing economy.
Q: Being a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, you have made substantial contribution to communication and collaboration between the two countries. Based on your own experiences, how do you see the role that business collaboration plays in Sino-U.S. relations?
A: I do think that the business context is quite critical. We cannot rely just on government to government, we need business to business, and we need people to people type things as well, such as student exchange. We need to keep the level of interaction up at every level.
Q: Your life story is legendary to many people. What do you personally find as your greatest achievement in life and in work?
A: I am super lucky. I’ve been in the area where things have been changing and been part of the digital revolution, the magic of software, the internet, the computer, and now the cellphone… so it’s been a great privilege. For me, I like to read and learn. There are always so many new things, like artificial intelligence, is now a big thing. We are making rapid advances. All the top companies and universities, rapid advances there.
By Zhang Niansheng from People’s Daily/NewsGhana.com.gh