Gates Working With China on Poverty, Hunger, Nuclear Power

Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest man, said a new partnership with China will help alleviate poverty and hunger globally, and that he’s working separately to promote the nation’s adoption of more-advanced nuclear power technology.

A partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology announced Oct. 26 aims to start work “quickly,” Gates, the foundation’s co-chairman and Microsoft Corp. chairman, said at a briefing in Beijing today. The two sides are still in talks on how to make the accord “come to life,” he said.

The partnership aims to helping reduce hunger and poverty in developing nations by funding research and development for health and agriculture products. As part of the $300 million project, the ministry will offer $2 for every dollar the Gates foundation provides, China Daily reported in October.

“What we’ll be able to do, whether it’s with drugs, or new vaccines or new seeds, or new diagnostics, in total, will improve the world every bit as much as the digital revolution has,” Gates said at the conference today.

For Gates, 56, today’s event was at least his third philanthropic trip to China in 15 months. In June, he was in Beijing to announce a global alliance for public health with the Baidu Charitable Foundation run by Robin Li, who’s chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., which runs China’s most popular search engine. In September 2010, Gates visited Beijing with Warren Buffett to meet 50 Chinese leaders in business and philanthropy to discuss charitable giving.

Nuclear Power

On this trip, Gates said he also spoke to China National Nuclear Corp. about a new technology he’s promoting for fourth-generation nuclear reactors. The “traveling-wave reactor” was developed by TerraPower, a company in which Gates is an investor. These could operate without enrichment or reprocessing for millennia, TerraPower says on its website.

The “new approach” to nuclear power is still at an early stage and its adoption won’t move fast, Gates said. Development of the design may require investment of $1 billion in the next five years, and the reactors will cost “billions” to build, Gates said.

Yesterday, Gates held talks with Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang about cooperation in agriculture and health care, Xinhua said, citing Wan.

Gates co-founded Microsoft, now the world’s largest software maker, in 1975 after dropping out of Harvard University. He retired from active company management in 2008 to run the Gates foundation, which he founded in 2000.

Gates was ranked the world’s second-richest man in March by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $56 billion. Carlos Slim of Mexico topped the list with estimated assets of $74 billion, according to Forbes.

— With assistance by Edmond Lococo

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