Chinese President Hu Jintao kicked off his trip to the U.S. on Tuesday with a visit to Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington, 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 percent 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 pre-install copies of licensed software on the computers they produce.
One day before Hu's arrival in the U.S., Microsoft and Lenovo Group, China's largest PC maker, inked a $1.2 billion deal to install licensed versions of Microsoft's operating system on PCs sold in China and other countries. 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 around 100 guests, including former Washington Governor Gary Locke, 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 George W. Bush on Thursday in Washington, D.C., for talks that are expected to focus on a range of issues, including bilateral trade, North Korea, and Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.