Weibo users worried about everything from how the couple would divide their massive fortunes to whether the divorce would affect Microsoft or their charitable foundation. Through their philanthropic organization, the couple spent $ 53.8 billion on global health, poverty reduction and other initiatives. Bill Gates is worth around $ 146 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and the couple have pledged to donate the vast majority of their wealth to charity.
“You and Melinda have made enormous contributions to people around the world. Even if you don’t hold hands in the future life, I hope your foundation can continue and help more people, ”wrote one Weibo user, responding to a post on Bill Gates’ Official Weibo Account who announced divorce in Chinese.
While Bill Gates no longer runs Microsoft, the company has spent decades building goodwill with Beijing. Its products have a huge presence in China, even as other Western tech companies have been blocked.
And the company’s success has likely contributed to Bill Gates’ personal draw: He now has over 4.1 million subscribers on Weibo, surpassing the 1.7 million of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Apple chief Tim Cook, 1.4 million.
Even leading tech figures in China have joined the conversation on Weibo: Kai-fu Lee – the former head of Google ( China, which helped create Microsoft Research Lab Asia, a hugely influential network in China, said it was hard to believe the news. )
The company’s Beijing-based research lab – Microsoft Research Lab Asia – has cultivated many Chinese tech talent, including Bytedance founder Zhang Yiming, Alibaba ( Chief Technology Officer Wang Jian and former )Baidu ( President Zhang Yakin. )
Bill and Melinda are “the most loving couple I’ve seen among famous entrepreneurs,” Lee wrote. in a Weibo post.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation opened its office in Beijing in 2007 and has since worked with the Chinese government on several national projects in the country, ranging from HIV intervention to poverty reduction.
Bill Gates himself has visited China more than a dozen times since the 1990s and maintained friendly relations with key executives. It was greeted by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin in March 1994, just before China officially had access to the Internet.
At that time, China was keen to open up its economy and catch up with the West when it came to technology. The trip – in which Gates promised Jiang that Microsoft would help China develop its software industry – helped Microsoft accelerate its expansion into the Chinese market.
In 2006, Gates hosted former Chinese President Hu Jintao for a dinner at his home in Washington state.
And last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote to Gates thanking him for his support in the fight against Covid-19.
Gates was even hailed as “the old friend of the Chinese people” by the ruling Chinese Communist Party in 2018, a title the Party occasionally uses for foreigners it recognizes as having a deep friendship.
Meanwhile, on social media, some distraught Chinese users have even noticed that the divorce has shaken their beliefs about marriage. The couple had been married for 27 years.
“Even you’re divorced,” one person wrote, responding to Bill Gates on Weibo. “How can the rest of us hope to marry? “