Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Ousted White House advisor to Trump Steve Bannon was invited recently to the Chinese leadership compound, Zhongnanhai, to meet with the country’s second-most powerful official, the Financial Times reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The trip to Beijing came after Bannon’s closed-door speech at an investor conference in Hong Kong, held by Chinese state-owned brokerage CLSA.

The top party official is Wang Qishan, a close ally of President Xi Jinping and the center of much speculation about next month’s party congress. He is said to have arranged the meeting through an intermediary to talk about the subject of populism addressed in Bannon’s remarks in Hong Kong.

“The Chinese reached out to Bannon before his Hong Kong speech because they wanted to ask him about economic nationalism and populist movements which was the subject of his speech,” one of the sources was quoted as saying.

In Mr Bannon’s speech at the CLSA event, he said that he left the White House to be Trump’s ally and “wingman” outside of Washington. The sources stressed that the Meeting with Wang was unrelated to Trump’s upcoming visit to China.