I get just a hint of his politics, however, when we discuss the speed and energy with which China is developing and I suggest that some might find it all a bit scary. The word sets Gates off: “If all you care about is the US or the UK’s relative strength in the world, then it’s particularly scary,” he says laughing sarcastically. “In the US case, 1945 was our relative peak.” Since then, as he points out, other countries from Europe to Asia have rebuilt and become more prosperous, but, says Gates, “I guess I’m just not enough of a nationalist to see it all in negative terms.” On the contrary, Gates is excited by the things that a richer China could bring to the world. “I think it’s good that Chinese scientists are working on cancer drugs, because if my kid got cancer, I wouldn’t look at the label that says ‘made in China’. And, hopefully, we’ll get them working on some of these vaccines and also on energy.”
Lunch with the FT: Bill Gates
I am sitting on a bar stool. On the other side of a round metal table, the world’s second richest man is sipping a Diet Coke, eating french fries with his fingers and explaining the history of the polio vaccine.