SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp’s former CEO, met with China’s technology minister this week, said a Friday statement on the ministry website, days after U.S. tech groups expressed concerns over Chinese regulation damaging their businesses.
In the meeting with China’s Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, in which Gates was representing the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the two discussed cooperating on technology and “innovative development”, Friday’s statement said.
The statement did not mention Microsoft, for whom Gates remains on the board and spends about a third of his time as technology adviser to CEO Satya Nadella.
The environment for U.S. tech companies has become increasingly difficult in China in recent months. Last week, U.S. business lobbies called on the White House for help to overturn new Chinese cyber security regulations they said would hurt market opportunities abroad and jobs in the United States. U.S. tech groups wrote to Beijing about the same policies on Jan. 28.
Foreign companies are also increasingly concerned they are being targeted by Chinese regulators.
Addressing a Chinese anti-monopoly investigation into Microsoft in September, Chief Executive Nadella said the company would fully cooperate with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which launched a probe into the world’s largest software company last summer.
The company’s mainland subsidiary was charged with about $140 million in back taxes in November, the first U.S. corporation targeted for cross-border tax evasion in China.
Microsoft declined to comment on Gates’ visit, as it concerns the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
An official at the foundation confirmed the visit but declined to provide further details.
Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Paul Carsten and Michael Perry