I've got no clue abouit it. It sounds to me like 'to take the piece'. Mas I'm working in a much more formal context.
It follows the extract:
“He is trying to buy face from me,” [...], “he doesn’t support my thoughts. He opposes the Cultural Revolution in his own clever way. He’s relying on his base in the Party, [...] where respect for him is considerable. [...].”
Does this refer to the cultural revolution in China?