Former European trade commissioner, architect of Britain's New Labour party project and twice-sacked member of the cabinet Peter Mandelson (right) has been called many things. Most notable are the Prince of Darkness, for his alleged Machiavellian tendencies, and the Sultan of Spin for his mastery of media manipulation. But speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club this week to promote his new book The Third Man, the master of the political dark arts revealed how, when leading the European Union's negotiating team in talks with Chinese officials, he almost met his match. In fact, the tete-a-tete quite literally took the biscuit. Locking horns with rising mainland political star Bo Xilai, who was then commerce minister, over textile tariffs in Shanghai, a jet-lagged and frazzled Mandelson was confronted by an aide to the Beijing official. 'She was formidable, a sort of head of protocol, maitre'd and bullier-in-chief rolled into one. 'Every time we had a break, she would come to me and tell me I was acting extremely unreasonably. 'As a result, the Chinese side were given tea, sandwiches and all manner of food throughout. We got biscuits. We still reached a deal, though.'