April 14, 2006

Hu welcome dinner at Gates house, not White House

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The first lavish dinner of China
President Hu Jintao's historic visit to the United States next
week will be in a big, secure house in Washington where the
host is one of the world's most powerful men.

The White House? No.

It won't be in Washington D.C., but Seattle, Washington,
and the April 18 dinner will be held at the $100 million
lakeside mansion of Microsoft Corp. founder and the world's
richest man, Bill Gates.

The approximately 100-person guest list is a who's who of
the U.S. Pacific Northwest power elite, including Starbucks
Corp. Chairman Howard Schultz and Washington state Gov.
Christine Gregoire, said event organizers.

The guests will undergo strict security checks before
entering Gates' lodge-style, 66,000 square-foot (6,130 sq
meter) home overlooking Lake Washington with a reported seven
bedrooms, six kitchens, 24 bathrooms, a domed library, a
reception hall and an artificial estuary stocked with salmon
and trout.

Gates and Gregoire are expected to introduce and welcome
Hu, who will then offer a toast in front of the gathering.

The guests will be served a three-course dinner, starting
with a smoked guinea fowl salad, a choice of either beef filet
with Walla Walla onions or Alaskan halibut and spot prawns
before a dessert of rhubarb brown butter almond cake, the event
organizers said.

Like any good dinner guest, President Hu will not come
empty handed. The Chinese government issued a decree two weeks
ago that all PCs will need to have a licensed operating system
software installed before leaving the factory gates in an
effort to crack down on piracy.

As a result, three Chinese PC manufacturers announced plans
to buy a total of over $400 million worth of Microsoft Windows
operating system software over the next three years and Lenovo
Group Ltd., China's largest PC maker, is expected to announce a
similar deal on Monday, organizers said.