Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper has ended his five-day visit to China with a one-hour meeting Saturday evening with Bo Xilai, the embattled Communist Party chief of Chongqing who is now facing a serious setback in his ascent to the Politburo with the disappearance of his erstwhile right-man, former police chief Wang Lijun.
Security was especially tight around the headquarters of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee, where the meeting took place. Only three of the prime minister’s 30-strong delegation of reporters were given access to the meeting.
Harper and his wife Laureen were also photographed with one of the two pandas — Er Shun (“double smoothness) and Ji Li (“successful and pretty”) — that will be on loan to Canada for ten years from 2013 at a cost of $1 million per year.
“I think the 10-year-loan of the pandas, besides being an obvious gesture of friendship, the length of that loan indicates the degree of commitment that the Chinese really do have, and the optimism they have for the relationship going forward,” said Harper at a press conference.
One day before visiting Chongqing in the middle of its ongoing political drama, Harper visited Guangzhou, where he met with Guangdong party chief Wang Yang, who has won praise recently for his handling of the land grab protests in Wukan.
Wang Yang is the chief architect of the so-called Guangdong model, marked by its economic liberalism and political openness, which stands in stark contrast to the Chongqing model, known for its success in fighting organised crime and its Mao-inspired “red song” campaigns.