On a Saturday afternoon last February, Prime Minister Stephen Harper sat on a bench in a Chinese zoo, his wife by his side.

On her lap squirmed a baby panda, one paw stretched toward Harper.

He regarded it warily.

The prime minister wasn't sure how he should approach the furry creature, especially given the cameras whirring to record his every move.

The choices: make friends and shake its paw or smile nicely and do nothing at all. He opted for a compromise approach, reaching around to ruffle its fur.

Fast forward six months to the China National Offshore Oil Co. or CNOOC making a $15.1-billion...

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