Xi Jinping Tells Bill Gates He Welcomes US AI Tech in China

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The global rise of artificial intelligence is creating new opportunities for businesses and consumers, but it also raises concerns about potential risks. On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed the topic with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and said he welcomed U.S. firms, including Microsoft bringing their A.I. technology to China, two sources familiar with the talks said. The discussion came amid strained U.S.-China relations fueled by trade, human rights, and Taiwan tensions. The billionaire and philanthropist discussed a broad range of issues with Xi during his meeting at the state-owned Diaoyutai villa, one of Beijing’s top residences, according to a post on Gates’ blog, Gates Notes.

According to the Post, Xi called Gates “an old friend” and said they could carry out activities that benefit both countries. The two met before a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is expected to meet with Xi during the trip to ease tensions over various issues.

The sources said the discussion on A.I. centered around balancing innovation with risk. Xi has previously emphasized the need to seize opportunities in A.I. while being cautious of its risks. Those concerns have led the country to weigh a law on A.I. and rules for generative A.I.

During the conversation, Xi also expressed a willingness to collaborate on new technologies with the United States, according to the two sources. The pair also discussed Microsoft’s business development in China, one of the sources said. Microsoft has a significant presence in China, and its search engine is accessible inside the country’s firewall, although results on sensitive topics are censored. It also operates the LinkedIn professional network and chatbot that sparked a global artificial intelligence boom last year with its ChatGPT.

The sources said the discussions were informal, but the two leaders agreed that common challenges in global development need to be addressed through cooperation between their nations. They said they were optimistic about the potential for increased cooperation in the future.

The meeting came as China and the United States struggled to balance their relationship, which has deteriorated over trade, cybersecurity, human rights, and Taiwan. The tensions have raised concerns about the long-term health of the world’s largest economies and their ability to work together on significant global challenges such as climate change, poverty, disease, and war. Xi’s meeting with Gates comes a week after the latter criticized Beijing for imposing restrictions on access to U.S. microchips that could hurt China’s technological advancements. The visit follows high-profile visits to the country by the heads of Apple and Google, who were also received at a state villa in Beijing.

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