A rich China not threat to world, Bill Gates says
MIAMI (Reuters) - China's growing wealth is good for the world, and there will come a time when the influence of the United States shrinks to the level of its share of the world population, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said on Friday.
Asked at a meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in Miami whether he regarded China's growing influence in Latin America as a threat, Gates, one of the world's richest people, said not at all.
"The fact that China is getting rich is overall a very good thing. The fact that more minds are getting educated is huge. If you care about the human condition, really then a richer China is better," Gates told a seminar on corporate philanthropy.
"If you think of this theme of relative power, you're just into 'My country is the most powerful,' then you're going to have to be nostalgic and think back to 1947," he said, saying that was when U.S. military and economic power peaked.
Microsoft does not break out sales to China, but demand in emerging markets like China represent a fast-growing part of its $51 billion in annual revenue. Improvements in fighting piracy in China have contributed to revenue growth in its Windows operating system business.
China, its booming economy hungry for raw commodities, has poured money into Latin America in recent years to get a slice of the region's large mining and agricultural sectors.
The growing Chinese presence in an area the United States traditionally viewed as its backyard has awakened some concerns among U.S. military officials.
China's accelerating military spending in particular has caught the eye of the Pentagon and its increasing role as a holder of U.S. debt and its huge share of U.S. imports has also prompted some hand-wringing among U.S. conservatives.
Gates, who in June will leave behind his executive responsibilities at Microsoft to dedicate himself full-time to the charitable activities of the Gates Foundation, said economic and social advances in the rest of the world would inevitably erode U.S. predominance.
"The fact is the United States is 5 percent of the world's people. At some point we are going to have 5 percent of the world's influence and that's OK," he said.
(Reporting by Michael Christie, Editing by Philip Barbara)
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