French entrepreneur Alain Mérieux was awarded the China Reform Friendship Medal for his support of China's reform and opening-up program at the conference celebrating its 40th anniversary on Tuesday.
Mérieux's family has a history of funding medical business and research. Forbes put net worth at 2.7 billion U.S. dollars at December 17. He is currently the chairman of Institut Mérieux, which was founded by his grandfather Marcel Mérieux in 1897.
About 40 years ago, Alain Mérieux knocked at China's door when the country decided to open up.
He led the institute in building firm cooperation with China in fighting tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
He helped to build China's first biological lab of the top biosafety level P4 in the city of Wuhan.
When the cooperation suffered downtime, Mérieux devoted considerable effort to negotiations between the various parties and managed to maintain a good relationship.
In October 2012, when Xi Jinping was China's vice president, he met with Mérieux and praised his institute for contributing to China's public health sector.
Two years later, Xi visited one of the institute's research centers in Lyon, France, saying: "I'm happy to see that Institut Mérieux achieved a lot through cooperation with China."
The medal recipient does not care about borders when it comes to fighting diseases. "This is a global problem. We at Mérieux have been thinking like that for more than a century," he said.
That's why he led the companies to expand across the globe, including China.