China's President Hu has dinner with Bill Gates

Chinese leader says he is committed to protecting intellectual property rights

Chinese President Hu Jintao kicked off his trip to the U.S. yesterday with a visit to Microsoft Corp.'s campus in Redmond, Wash., and dinner at the home of Bill Gates, the company's chairman and chief software architect.

During his visit to Microsoft's campus, Hu assured Gates that China is committed to protecting intellectual property (IP) rights, China's state-run media reported. He also told Gates that China welcomed further investment from Microsoft, the reports said.

IP infringement, including software piracy, is a big source of friction between China and the U.S. More than 90% of software used in China is unlicensed, according to a U.S. government estimate. In a bid to soothe U.S. concerns, the Chinese government has pushed PC makers to preinstall copies of licensed software on the computers they produce.

One day before Hu's arrival in the U.S., Microsoft and Lenovo Group Ltd., China's largest PC maker, reached a $1.2 billion agreement to install licensed versions of Microsoft's operating system on PCs sold in China and other countries (see "Lenovo, Microsoft to sign intellectual property pact"). Microsoft signed similar deals with two other Chinese PC makers earlier this month.

Following his tour of Microsoft's campus and a visit to a local school, Hu was a guest for dinner at the Gates home. The dinner was attended by about 100 guests, including former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, who is a prominent Chinese-American politician, China's media reported.

Hu's visit to Microsoft had originally been planned for last year but was postponed following Hurricane Katrina, which devastated large areas of the U.S. Gulf Coast.

His current U.S. trip is part of a five-nation tour that will last until April 29 and include stops in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya. He will meet with President Bush tomorrow in Washington for talks that are expected to focus on a range of issues, including bilateral trade, North Korea and Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon