SHANGHAI — With the higher-stakes political discussions behind him, Justin Trudeau's week-long mission to foster Canadian-Chinese relations adopted a lighter tone Friday.
Early in the week, the prime minister talked trade and investment in Beijing with the most-powerful men in the Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with his team during a time-out as he coaches players during a basketball game at the Nanyang Model Private High school in Shanghai Sept. 2, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
Trudeau also used a speech Thursday night in Shanghai to call on China to do more to promote and protect human rights. In the address, he preached to the economic superpower on the value of good governance and free expression.
On Friday, Trudeau's effort to connect with the Chinese had moved into a far different phase.
It included high fives at a kids' basketball game, smoked meat and his on-stage performance of a yoga and tai chi-like dance in front of a crowd.
Unlike his earlier appearances this week in China, Trudeau had abandoned his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves. He seemed to be more at ease.
'It's important to step up'
Outside a Shanghai high school, Trudeau barked instructions from courtside as guest coach of a team. His squad, called the Raptors, faced an opponent coached by former National Basketball Association star Yao Ming.
"It's important to take a stand on issues that matter to you," Trudeau, a former teacher, told hundreds of cheering kids who crowded around the court before the friendly game.
"It's important to step up and look for your voice to be able to have an impact in shaping the world around you, in shaping your community, in shaping your future."
The game took place at a high school where British Columbia-certified teachers teach all courses between grades 10 and 12 in English.
After the game, he made an election-campaign-like stop by sweeping into a busy local restaurant that specializes in Montreal-style smoked meat and is run by a Montrealer.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with his team as he coaches players during a visit to the Nanyang Model Private High school in Shanghai, on Sept. 2, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
Inside, he moved through the restaurant chatting with customers. He even asked the owner what type of mustard is appropriate on a smoked-meat sandwich.
In the afternoon, Trudeau spoke at a Shanghai event hosted by Canadian insurance firm Manulife, which has had a presence in China since 1897. At the event, the company launched a program that rewards physically active customers with a free wearable fitness device and one year of free coverage.
After his speech, the smiling prime minister was joined on the stage by several people in a slow-moving dance that combined the Chinese art of tai chi with yoga.
"I'm here in China this week to talk about all of the great partnerships that we're working on, and that are going to happen between Canada and China," Trudeau said in the short speech.
Earlier Thursday in Shanghai, Trudeau met Cirque du Soleil chief executive Daniel Lamarre and Fosun International chairman Guo Guangchang.
The prime minister also met with a group of women entrepreneurs.
He told them he believes that the strength of any society depends on the full participation of all its citizens — and that especially includes women.
On Saturday, Trudeau will fly to Hangzhou, where he will meet with Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba. The prime minister will also attend the G20 leaders' summit in Hangzhou.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made his first official visit to China. The PM aims to strengthen ties between Canada and the world's second-largest economy, and promote human rights.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and daughter Ella-Grace are greeted as they arrive in Beijing, China, on Aug. 30, 2016.
China Entrepreneur Club chairman Jack Ma shares a laugh with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a question and answer session in Beijing on Aug. 30., 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau inspects an honour guard with the Premier of China Li Keqiang during an official welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday August 31, 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and China's Premier Li Keqiang prepare to leave at the end of a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Aug. 31, 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire hold Ella-Grace's hand as she jumps over a drainage pipe as they visit a section of the Great Wall of China, in Beijing on Sept.1, 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a promotional event for Canadian company Manulife in Shanghai, September 2, 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses with for a group photo at the Nanyang Model Private High school in Shanghai, Friday September 2, 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to throw the ball for the jump ball to start a basketball game.