Dressed in sweatpants, he does not look the strait-laced apparatchik, nor is his office typical of a Chinese businessman’s. The lobby features sculptures inspired by his poems; crampons and oxygen tanks are lined up outside the meeting room. A litter of grey kittens runs around, vying for his attention. Upstairs, beside his bedroom, he keeps two monkeys, several parrots and a rabbit. He used to keep sharks but says they failed to thrive in Beijing.
Yet he is not familiar with Ernst Stavro Blofeld:
Mr Huang, who has climbed Everest and reached the north and south poles, rejects any claim that his deal is motivated by strategic considerations. “It’s true that I have a government background. But I didn’t want to be a bureaucrat,” he says, stroking a purring kitten. “Could a bureaucrat keep cats in his office?”