- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

From combined dispatches

SEATTLE — Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Seattle to meet with business leaders yesterday on his way to a White House meeting with President Bush and what is likely to be tough talk on trade and copyright piracy.

At Microsoft Corp.’s suburban Redmond campus, Mr. Hu said he admired what billionaire software mogul Bill Gates had achieved. He also sought to reassure Mr. Gates that China is serious about protecting intellectual-property rights, a key concern for the company as it battles widespread piracy of its Windows operating system there.

“Because you, Mr. Bill Gates, are a friend of China, I’m a friend of Microsoft,” Mr. Hu said through a translator. “Also, I am dealing with the operating system produced by Microsoft every day,” he added, to laughter.

“If you ever need advice on how to use Windows, I’ll be glad to help,” Mr. Gates responded.

Washington state was Mr. Hu’s first stop on an ambitious four-day U.S. tour, which began in Everett, where members of the Seattle Kung Fu Club and a handful of ribbon dancers from a Seattle elementary school welcomed him. The Chinese leader also was greeted by government and business leaders, including Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, and Starbucks Corp. Chairman Howard Schultz.

“Your state enjoys very good cooperative relations with my country,” Mr. Hu said through a translator.

Demonstrators both in support of and opposition to the communist leader lined the streets near the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle, where Mr. Hu was staying, and Seattle’s Chinatown. Supporters waved Chinese and U.S. flag.

But members of the spiritual movement Falun Gong, condemned by the Chinese government, staked out all four corners around the hotel to protest treatment of the movement’s followers in China, using large banners and bullhorns to try to grab Mr. Hu’s attention as his motorcade whisked through.

“Nazi-like brutal genocide concentration camps is re-emerging in China,” read one Falun Gong sign outside the hotel.

At the entrance to Microsoft’s campus, protesters waved signs in Chinese and English that read “Stop web censorship” and “Release all political prisoners.”

Mr. Hu will stay in the Seattle area today for a visit to Boeing Co., which will include a major policy speech, and will arrive in Washington, D.C., later in the day. The highlight of Mr. Hu’s four-day trip will be a summit tomorrow with Mr. Bush.

Before the visit, China sought to quell U.S. trade complaints by signing contracts worth $16.2 billion while Vice Prime Minister Wu Yi visited the United States last week.

But U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick said Beijing had been “agonizingly slow” in meeting U.S. demands to reform its currency system and give the yuan enough flexibility. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow made a similar charge and said the currency issue would be part of tomorrow’s discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials.

U.S. officials say the yuan is undervalued, making Chinese exports artificially cheap. The U.S. trade deficit with China totaled $202 billion last year.

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