Tech titans at White House state dinner

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Ms Priscilla Chan, arriving for the state dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama for Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House on Friday.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Ms Priscilla Chan, arriving for the state dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama for Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House on Friday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • In a reflection of just how important Washington's relationship with Beijing has become, President Barack Obama has just hosted his second state dinner for China, the only country to get such a double honour from him.

And the guest list on Friday reflected just how important Beijing is to America's titans of technology. The guests included Mr Mark Zuckerberg, who is trying to persuade the Chinese government to lift a ban on Facebook, the company he founded, and Mr Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, which sells more iPhones in China than in any other country.

Also on the list were Mr Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, which wants China to approve sales of its latest operating system, Windows 10; Mr Larry Ellison, executive chairman of Oracle; and Mr Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation.

Mr Zuckerberg, Mr Cook and Mr Nadella were seated at the head table with Mr Obama and President Xi Jinping of China.

The previous state dinner was in 2011 for then President Hu Jintao. But poached Maine lobster was again on the menu, along with traditional rice noodle rolls embedded with spinach, shiitake mushrooms and leeks.

Earlier in the day, US First Lady Michelle Obama and the Chinese President's wife Peng Liyuan jointly named a baby panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

The male cub, born on Aug 22, was named Bei Bei, which means "precious treasure". A shortlist of names had been drawn up by zoo keepers at the Washington zoo and the Wolong nature reserve in China.

The giant pandas have become favourites with visitors to the zoo and have an online live stream of their activities, frequent pictures on Instagram, and a popular Twitter hashtag.

THE NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'Tech titans at White House state dinner'. Print Edition | Subscribe