Roger L. Simon

What?! No choice of dessert?!!

If I were Hu Jintao, I’d be outraged by this chintzy treatment by his host for the Chinese president’s U. S. welcome dinner that begins Hu’s visit here even before the Chinese leader meets our president:

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.

And what happens if Hu’s allergic to rhubarb? Did anyone think about that? You’d think considering the following, Bill wouldn’t be stinting on dessert:

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.

(ht: Sheryl)