In the Middle Kingdom

The visa came through, the check-in was made and I'm now installed in the Celebrity International Grand Hotel - a mere seven kilometers from downtown Beijing. But it's ten minutes from the conference centre where the Intel Development Forum is kicking off on Tuesday, and that's why I'm here.

The visa came through, the check-in was made and I'm now installed in the Celebrity International Grand Hotel - a mere seven kilometers from downtown Beijing. But it's ten minutes from the conference centre where the Intel Development Forum is kicking off on Tuesday, and that's why I'm here.

The past twenty four hours have been spent in the company of fellow Euro hacks, the odd PR and the massed peoples of the PRC. I've scaled the Great Wall, marched across Tianamen Square, and eaten many things with tentacles and heads still attached. It is all good, except the traffic (five cars for every two lanes, driven by people who are not minded to relinquish one millimetre of either to the other four), the dust (a major dust storm is predicted at some point soon - not so long ago, all the trees were cut down and the wind now blows in half the surrounding desert when it wills) and the enormous building site that will be the 2008 Olympics. People of Leytonstone and Stratford - leave before 2012.

On the plus side, the reason China is being very friendly towards journalists - it's now much, much easier to get a journo visa for here than for the US, and there are no strings attached - is that the PR company it hired for the Olympics, Hill and Knowlton, told it to play nice. And it listened. Not so much Chairman Mao's Little Red Book, more H+Ks Briefing Powerpoint. Nice going, lads, but there's a lot of karma to make up yet.

Away from windborne silicon and back with the chip variety, the goss among the great and the good, the dire and the drunken, is of AMD fumbling the ball, of Microsoft dropping long-term partners in draconian "You didn't support Vista enough" mode, and of various tech websites changing hands. All this is single-sourced and multilple-beered, so honour and self-interest mean I should leave it to the leakers to publish first - but nobody's saying much about what Intel is up to.

Still, tomorrow we have a seven hour press briefing and perhaps we'll get something from that. And on that note, it's time for a nice refreshing four hours kip...

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