The Gates – Hu tapes

This morning’s Observer column

When President Hu Jintao of China arrived in the US last Wednesday, his first appointment was dinner with Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, at Gates’s mansion (aka San Simeon North) on the shores of Lake Washington. They dined on smoked guinea fowl, which had been shot at by the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney. (He missed, and hit one of his friends instead; the guinea fowl was later killed by humane means.) The pair were joined by Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, the Chinese ambassador to the US, a number of the President’s aides and the deputy assistant head of protocol at the White House. Owing to an unpatched security hole in Gates’s Windows-powered home-monitoring system, the meeting of the two Great Leaders was bugged and a transcript of their conversation has been obtained by The Observer …

Gates: You Hu?

Hu: I am the President of China.

Gates: Cool. I’m the Chairman of Microsoft. (Hu bows.)

Hu: Because you, Mr Bill Gates, are a friend of China, I am a friend of Microsoft.

Gates: Wow! That’s really cool. We’re very interested in China, you know. Big market. Smart people.

Hu: We are pleased that many great US companies are coming to China – for example Google.

Ballmer: (Heatedly) Those sons of bitches. They stole one of our top Chinese execs …

Gates: Cool it, Steve. Hu doesn’t know about that.

Hu: We also have Yahoo in China. They are very co-operative in rooting out undesirable elements.

Ballmer: (Mutters.) Maybe they could help root out Google …