Vice President Joe Biden Thursday began a four-day get-to-know-you mission here as the guest of his Chinese counterpart, stressing the importance of the two countries working together to combat the global economic crisis.From the New York Times:
But the trip, carefully choreographed by Chinese leaders, got off to an awkward start when Chinese security officials forcibly shoved foreign journalists out of the conference room before Biden had finished making his prepared remarks in his meeting with Vice President Xi Jinping.
White House and U.S. Embassy officials, visibly irked, tried to intervene but were also shoved by the guards, according to those in the room.
Biden continued speaking, undeterred by the melee...
Mr. Biden [was speaking] nostalgically of his first visit to China in 1979, when he was a senator. Before he could finish his opening remarks, which had been prepared for officials and journalists to hear, Chinese security officers forcefully shoved foreign reporters and some White House employees from the meeting room. It was unclear whether there had been some sort of misunderstanding for the disturbance, rare during such a high-level meeting, but American officials declined to comment on the matter.In a related development:
A wild brawl broke out between Georgetown and a Chinese men's basketball team Thursday night, putting an immediate end to a supposed goodwill game that coincided with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the country.CNN notes that the "Bayi Rockets are an army team which plays in the China Basketball Association, the local professional league. Most of their players serve in the People's Liberation Army."
The benches cleared and fights erupted all over the court with about 9½ minutes left in the fourth quarter. The rest of the exhibition between Georgetown and the Bayi Rockets was called off.
Biden did not attend the game. On Wednesday, he watched the Hoyas beat the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons 98-81... Georgetown and the Rockets are scheduled to play again Sunday night in Shanghai.
The melee was the latest instance of on-court fighting by China, whose players have been fined tens of thousands of dollars by the world and Asian federations for scrapping with opponents.
Georgetown is in China on a 10-day trip which has been cited by the U.S. State Department as an example of sports diplomacy that strengthens ties between the two countries.
The Telegraph-UK noted:
Reports and pictures from the basketball match showed an unidentified Bayi player pushed Georgetown's Aaron Bowen to the ground before repeatedly punching the sophomore guard while sitting on his chest. Chairs and water bottles were also thrown [from the crowd] as the Georgetown players left the court with about nine-and-a-half minutes remaining in the final quarter.Moral of the story is: When push comes to shove, the Chinese really know how to shove!
In an indication of the diplomatic embarrassment, China's censors did their best to erase any mention of the unsavoury incident from the web, although as always in the age of microblogging, struggled in vain to keep up with the deluge of comments and pictures.