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Harper goes to China to mend strained ties

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to China this week amid serious divisions in the Conservative ranks over Canada’s relationship with its No. 2 trading partner. Harper held an upbeat photo-op with the Chinese ambassador in his Langevin Block office late last week to announce his third visit to the country following a long-standing invitation from President Xi Jinping. But the warm encounter was in stark contrast to months of chilly relations between the two countries that almost iced the visit entirely, an expert on Chinese-Canadian relations says. “I think the invitation has been on the table for a year and a half, and there was no decision until very recently; it was on-again,…