Bill Gates Peking University 24 March 2017 Speech
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[Bill Gates Peking University 24 March 2017 Speech]
[William Henry “Bill” Gates III:]
Good evening. Thank you, Professor Lin. It’s great to be here today. Beida has an incredible history and I’m sure next year, as you celebrate your 120th-year anniversary, you’ll get to look back on the incredible contributions that you have made to this country.
I’ve been coming to China since the early 1990’s, initially as part of my work at Microsoft. It was ten years ago that I was privileged to be named an honorary trustee here at Beida. I remember what a great time I had in 2008 when I was here watching the Olympic table tennis semi-finals between China and South Korea.
As I’m sure you remember, China took the gold medal in every category – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s and women’s team’s event. That was on top of two silvers and two bronze medals. For someone who’s a big table tennis fan, that was pretty incredible to witness.
And that highlights in one way, what incredible potential China has. China is on a quest for excellence, a quest not only to improve itself but to contribute to the whole world.
As China’s economy is maturing, it’s making bold and difficult decisions on things like energy and pollution. And it’s assuming a greater role in critical issues like climate and development. And this matters now more than ever as the world is navigating a time of change and uncertainty.
In some rich countries, there is skepticism about globalization. The results of the U.S. presidential election and the Brexit vote in the UK, both seem to underscore a rise of turning inward on issues like migration, security, and perhaps even global development.
It’s great to see China stepping up to engage even more with other countries. It is greatly equipped to do so. No other country has accomplished what China has achieved in the last few decades – breaking the relentless cycle of poverty and disease for hundreds of millions of people while modernizing its economy at a scale and speed unprecedented in human history.
Although no one is expecting China to fill a gap in development aid from wealthy countries, it has made a very smart commitment to triple its commitment to African development. China has long understood that helping other countries lift themselves out of poverty creates a stable and secure world for people everywhere.
And by encouraging investment through innovative financing mechanisms like the China-Africa Development Fund, China is strengthening not only Africa’s economic capacity, but also, over time, the markets for Chinese goods.
[Bill Gates:] Source: LYBIO.net
It’s great to see President Xi’s commitment to eliminate extreme poverty here in China by 2020. China did a great job of lifting millions out of poverty. But progress has been uneven. Forty-three million people still live in extreme poverty.
Our foundation looks forward to a new partnership with China that will focus on innovative ideas to bring this number down to zero – working on nutrition, healthcare in rural areas, and also finding ways to increase financial services for the poor.
Of course, China isn’t not only striving to reach new heights here at home. It’s using its own experience fighting poverty and disease to help other countries tackle similar challenges. When I was in Beijing a few years ago, Vice Premier Wang Yang said something that stayed with me. He said: “Africa today is our yesterday.” Now, China is using the lessons it’s learned to usher in a new tomorrow for Africa, too.
This is a pretty incredible time to be a young person in China. Your generation’s entrance into the workforce will coincide with your country’s rise as a center of global progress and innovation. The world’s eyes are on China and as a new generation comes of age, the world’s eyes are specifically on all of you.
So, I want to spend the rest of my comments focusing on four areas where I think there are exciting opportunities to use your education, your passion, and opportunities to unlock more amazing progress – for both China and for the world. Specifically, health, agriculture, energy, and technology.
First, health. When my wife and I started the Gates foundation 17 years ago, we asked ourselves: how can we use our financial resources to make the biggest impact? It didn’t take long to realize that improving health deserved to be at the top of the list.
When people aren’t healthy, they can’t learn in school or be productive at work. They’re unable to seize economic opportunities or do any of the things they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
Melinda and I saw the example of China creating a better life for its people, and it inspired us to see if there was a way to support China’s progress. Over the last decade, our work here has focused on several of the most persistent domestic health challenges – specifically reducing the incidence of tuberculosis and tobacco-related diseases, preventing HIV transmission, and improving treatment and care for people living with AIDS.
We are continuing to support progress in these areas, but our work in China is also evolving along with China’s new priorities. For example, China has a great opportunity to be a global leader in health innovation.
No one exemplifies the strong history here better than Professor Tu Youyou. As I’m sure most of you know, Professor Tu is a Beida graduate and the first woman in China to win a Nobel Prize.
She was, of course, recognized for her discovery of artemisinin, the powerful medicine used to treat malaria. It was one of the most significant breakthroughs in tropical medicine in the 20th century and it has saved millions of lives.
With its rich pool of talented scientists and its capacity to develop new drugs and vaccines, China was a clear choice for us to locate a new Global Health Drug Discovery Institute. This institute – a collaboration between our foundation, the Beijing Government, and Tsinghua University – will help speed the discovery and development of new lifesaving medicines.
[Bill Gates:] Source: LYBIO.net
I had a chance earlier today to meet with some of the Chinese scientists who are driving cutting-edge research. For example, Dr. He Ruyi is the Chief Scientist at the Center for Drug Evaluation for the Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). His work – and the reforms being carried out by his agency – will create an environment where innovation will thrive. We are working with the CFDA to bring in more experts like Dr. Ruyi to help improve its regulatory capacity so that more Chinese health products can be made accessible to the entire world, including developing countries.
One area that China has an incredible chance to lead in is in both reducing malaria and eventually eradicating malaria. With Chinese leadership, we have a chance to make malaria the third wide-scale human disease – after smallpox and, soon, polio – to be wiped off the face of the earth.
A little more than a century ago, malaria was the leading cause of death in nearly every country on earth. There has been great progress since then, and China is on track to eliminate malaria completely in the next few years. But more than 3.2 billion people around the world still live in areas where there’s a significant risk of malaria infection.
To achieve the goal of global eradication, we need to build on Professor Tu’s discovery of artemisinin and develop more powerful tools – like a single-dose cure and better ways to block transmission of malaria from mosquitos to humans.
China has the potential to develop these new high-impact solutions at a very low cost that the developing world can afford. We can start today by doing the elimination of malaria in places like the Mekong River basin and in the southern part of Africa.
Drawing on lessons learned from its own experience, China can help ensure that every family has bed nets to protect them from infection. And it can help countries strengthen their health and disease systems to better diagnose, treat, and prevent future cases of malaria.
That’s health. The second area where I believe China can accelerate global progress is agriculture. Since 1975, Chinese agricultural productivity has grown at a rate of 12 percent per year – four times the annual rate of growth in Africa.
That has not only fed a growing population, but it has led to better nutrition and health, higher rural incomes, falling poverty rates, and more labor available to other sectors to drive Chinese economic development.
There are many factors that accounted for China’s recent green revolution. One of the most significant is its commitment to agricultural innovation and the work of people like Professor Yuan Longping. A crop scientist at Hunan Agricultural University, Professor Yuan developed hybrid rice varieties that increased crop yields over 20 percent.
China’s continuing advances in rice could be of enormous benefit to millions of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom today are barely growing enough to feed their families and who’ll face more difficult weather conditions in the decades ahead.
Since 2008, Our foundation’s supported work by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and others to develop new varieties of rice that – when crossed with domestic varieties in countries like Senegal, Tanzania, Rwanda – will result in high-yielding, stress-tolerant crops that will boost farmer yields and income. But to feed the entire planet, we need to do even more.
One of the most exciting efforts is research by Chinese scientists to supercharge the basic process of photosynthesis itself. This would significantly increase crop yields while reducing the demand for irrigation and fertilizer.
We are also supporting research by Chinese scientists to improve the health of livestock, which plays a vital role in food security and the rural economy of developing countries. We are working with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Agriculture to promote sustainable agricultural development throughout Africa.
[Bill Gates:] Source: LYBIO.net
That brings me to what I think of as China’s third global opportunity: energy innovation. China is already one of the world leaders in renewable energy. And it recently announced that it will spend $360 billion on renewable power sources by 2020. This will pay off handsomely for China domestically, and it’s a great, long-term business opportunity.
There are challenges: sorting out the right mix of technologies, managing the reliability in the new large transmission grid. All of these will be needed to manage in a very complex way to meet the growing energy needs.
One element of the system would be the next-generation of nuclear technology. This, for generation, can be dramatically safer and substantially cheaper and solve a lot of the challenges with today’s nuclear energy. I work with a company, TerraPower, that is partnering with China National Nuclear Corporation and other Chinese companies to provide one way to make this a reality.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet several times with President Xi and I am encouraged by his commitment in a number of barriers – including his leadership at the Paris Climate talks. China was one of the 22 countries that committed to doubling their investments in clean energy innovation over the next five years.
I’m also working with Jack Ma and other Chinese investors who have pledged to invest $1 billion in the development of early-stage energy technology so we can move the best ideas from the labs to the marketplace.
A fourth area where I know China has great potential is software. During my time at Microsoft, we were so impressed by the quality of computer scientists and developers coming out of the universities here that we established one of our first research labs in Beijing almost 20 years ago.
Today, it’s Microsoft’s largest research center outside the United States. It’s a phenomenal place, with 200 of the world’s top researchers and developers and more than 300 visiting scientists and fellows.
The best thing is that researchers are free to explore what they’re most passionate about, which leads to breakthroughs like Xiaobing, a natural-language chat bot that simulates human conversation.
Some of you may have had conversations with Xiaobing on Weibo, or seen her weather forecasts on TV, or read her column in the Qianjiang Evening News.
Xiaobing has attracted 45 million followers and is quite skilled at multitasking. And I’ve heard she’s gotten good enough at sensing a user’s emotional state that she can even help during a relationship breakup.
Besides developing new technologies for Microsoft, the Beijing lab also helps software entrepreneurs who have a great product ideas and need help scaling their business. In the last two years, most of the 125 companies that graduated from the Microsoft Accelerator program were able to secure additional funding. And three of those startups have gone public.
The Beijing lab also supports up-and-coming software developers. We’ve hired more than 5,000 interns here. And you’ll be happy to know that we’ve recruited more students in the last three years from Beida than from Tsinghua. But it’s a slim lead, so those of you here in computer science will have to keep up your good work!
[Bill Gates:] Source: LYBIO.net
Technology is also helping to power the philanthropic sector in China. It’s a growing sector and one with immense potential. In 2015, people contributed 966 million RMB to causes they care about using the four largest online donation platforms.
And the success of 9/9 Charity Day, started a few years ago by Tencent, shows what is possible when people have an easy way to get involved and give back. In just three days last year, 6 million people – people like you – raised 305 million RMB in support of more than 3,600 projects. So this is just one example of how philanthropy is beginning to blossom here in China.
A lot of the most successful entrepreneurs, like Jack Ma, Pony Ma, Charles Chen Yidan and Niu Gensheng, have helped create the world’s second largest pool of individual wealth. And now they’re taking, some of their time to get involved and start giving back.
The new Charity Law that took effect last September begins to open up more opportunities for people to be engaged. People are coming together at events like the China’s Sixth Social Good Summit held at Beida last fall.
Some of you may decide to work for NGOs that are making life better for the most vulnerable in society. But even if you don’t end up doing that, or make big financial donations, there are many other ways of getting involved. Just learning about something, lending your voice, or volunteering your time is important.
What an incredible, motivating thing that is – the belief that you can make the world a better place. And there has never been a better time.
As the geopolitical currents shifts, China has an opportunity to advance progress on the most urgent challenges the world faces. China’s leaders are embracing this opportunity, but it will be up to China’s youth to carry it forward.
In the last few decades, millions of people in China have achieved professional and financial success. I’m sure all of you will too, and that’s a great thing. I certainly enjoyed all of my work at Microsoft and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But now I’ve also had the opportunity in my philanthropic work to meet people who apply their talents and passion in giving-back ways. Many of these people are impatient to see the world improve, but there’re optimists as well. People who believe in the possibility of change and are eager to do something about it.
Doctors courageous enough to risk their own lives to save the lives of others suffering from Ebola. Entrepreneurs using their ingenuity to deliver life-saving drugs to remote villages by drone. And people of all walks of life who volunteer their time to help the homeless or mentor a child at risk.
Maybe you are the person who wants to ensure that every child growing up in poverty has the nutrition they need to do their best in school. Maybe you want to develop the next vaccine that protects everyone from malaria. Maybe you want to design the battery that lights people’s desks at night, or the mobile technology that will allow people to start new businesses.
[Bill Gates:] Source: LYBIO.net
No matter what your ambition is to improve the world, this is the best time and the best place to do it, and all of you have a great opportunity. I look forward to seeing what you’ll achieve.
Bill Gates Peking University 24 March 2017 Speech. What incredible potential China has. China is on a quest for excellence. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.