- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2006

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The specter of state censorship and the proliferation of software piracy shouldn’t deter technology companies from doing business in China, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday.

As technology develops and Chinese innovations multiply, those problems will gradually dissipate, he said.

“I think [the Internet] is contributing to Chinese political engagement. … Access to the outside world is preventing more censorship,” Mr. Gates said, referring to China’s restrictions on politically sensitive Web sites.

Microsoft, Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have been criticized for acquiescing to Chinese government demands to block access to certain sites, a move critics contend suppresses free speech in the country.

But Mr. Gates said that despite the blockage, the Internet has contributed to the national dialogue simply by existing.

“I do think information flow is happening in China,” Mr. Gates said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that’s been a huge plus.”

Mr. Gates added that software piracy is a problem that probably will be solved over time, because as Chinese-made technology evolves, the country’s respect for intellectual-property rights will improve.

“We are always upset that they aren’t paying us for our products, but we’re not going to pick up and go home,” Mr. Gates said.

He also pledged yesterday to triple his foundation’s funding for eradicating tuberculosis to a total of $900 million by 2015.

The funding is part of a larger campaign against TB, which killed 1.6 million people worldwide last year. Mr. Gates, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and British Treasury chief Gordon Brown called for help to prevent 14 million tuberculosis deaths over the next decade.

“This is a very tough disease,” Mr. Gates said. “It is going to take all of us — private sector, the pharmaceutical companies, philanthropy and governments in countries that have the disease — to participate as well.”

The Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis was formed by the Stop Tuberculosis Partnership, a group of 400 organizations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation now gives $300 million to help fight the disease, and Mr. Gates said the amount would reach $900 million by 2015.

Britain said it would commit $74 million to fight tuberculosis in India.

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