Meetings show ousted Bannon still a power player

WASHINGTON • Mr Stephen Bannon privately met a top Chinese government official and a key leader in the Persian Gulf during a recent trip to Asia and the Middle East, demonstrating that US President Donald Trump's former chief adviser and strategist is still viewed as an influential figure abroad.

In Beijing, Mr Bannon spent 90 minutes with Mr Wang Qishan, a powerful member of the standing committee of the Chinese Politburo who is leading President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign. For Mr Bannon, getting time with Mr Wang puts him as close as he could get to Mr Xi himself.

In the United Arab Emirates, he met the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who arguably has more sway over US policy in the region than any other Arab leader.

The trip this month came just a few weeks after Mr Bannon was forced out of the White House, returning to his role as an outside agitator for his nationalist agenda.

The meeting with Mr Wang at Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership compound, came after Mr Bannon gave a closed-door speech at a big investor conference in Hong Kong hosted by CLSA, a Chinese state-owned brokerage and investment group, the Financial Times reported.

Mr Bannon met two other Chinese officials while in Beijing, one of whom selects articles from the People's Daily for the Chinese leadership, according to two people briefed on the meetings.

The purpose, these people said, was to discuss the rise of economic nationalism and populism.

His meeting with Prince bin Zayed came at a sensitive moment, days after Mr Trump failed to broker a resolution to a bitter dispute pitting Qatar against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Bannon declined to discuss the details of his meetings.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Meetings show ousted Bannon still a power player'. Print Edition | Subscribe