Bill Gates on China’s ‘most influential foreigners’ list

The world’s richest man joins Karl Marx and Nikita Khruschev on a list of non-Chinese making the greatest impact on China, published Thursday by a state-run newspaper’s Web site.

After regularly topping Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest people for several years, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates may find fewer peers among “50 foreigners shaping China’s modern development,” compiled by People’s Daily Online, the Web site of the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper. Joining him are famous and infamous foreigners, including well-known anti-capitalists Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Josef Stalin.

The criteria for inclusion included people having their impact on China since 1840, and that the list represented the “50 [foreigners that] could doubtlessly best demonstrate the epochal features that China collided with the world.”

Despite being the list’s only true technologist, Gates may be honored by being included along with Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin. He will perhaps feel more comfortable with other list members including former basketball star Michael Jordan and film director Steven Spielberg, and perhaps even Harland “Colonel” Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, now KFC Corp.

However, Gates may wonder if members of the open-source movement or Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison were on the selection committee when he realizes he’s being associated with former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, World War II Japanese monarch Emperor Hirohito, and Okamura Yasuji, who commanded Japanese forces in China during the Second World War, one of the most hated figures in Chinese history.

The list does not rank the 50 foreigners, merely listing them by date of birth.

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