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Will “smart diplomacy” be bringing an apology from the Chinese government anytime soon?

August 18, 2011

Okay, that’s not quite fair. Still:

At the same time as Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Beijing in hopes of improving relations between the U.S. and China…

Remember that line. We’ll come back to it later.

…another group on a goodwill trip from Washington, D.C., encountered an unexpected diplomatic hiccup.

Georgetown had to leave the court during the fourth quarter of its exhibition game against the Baiyi Rockets on Thursday night in Beijing after both benches emptied and a wild brawl erupted between the two teams.

Yikes. And yet, as bad luck would have it:

Vice President Joe Biden, known for his public-speaking stamina as well as for off-the-cuff comments that have landed him in trouble, sparked a brawl last night between the press and Chinese officials during a long-running speech.

That’s a little over the top. It wasn’t exactly a “brawl,” and according to the very same story, Biden had only been speaking for 5-6 minutes. Plus, as teh L.A. Times tells it:

Only minutes into Biden’s remarks, Chinese officials had begun to direct reporters toward the exits. Most reporters and the vice president’s staff objected, saying it was important to cover the entirety of Biden’s opening statement, as had been the agreement between officials beforehand.

…Soon the stern shooing turned into forceful shoving. As reporters tried to stand their ground, Chinese officials locked arms and pushed forward in a show of overwhelming force.

…Hours later, Biden held another meeting with the chair of the National People’s Congress, Wu Bangguo. And again, Chinese officials attempted to force reporters from the room even as Biden was still speaking.

Though there would not be the kind of physical interaction as in the earlier meeting, the vice president’s staff was not pleased with their Chinese counterparts, who they felt were showing disrespect to the office and to the country.

Whether his speech was being piped in to the basketball game…well, the stories don’t say.

Unless details exist that we don’t have yet, this is completely, entirely China’s fault. I dunno exactly how we make it stick, but we should demand apologies and promises that it won’t happen again. For the press and the basketball team - the host country ought to make sure things like that don’t happen. And they should bend over backwards to make Georgetown feel welcome for the rest of their visit.

At any rate, we now have a 1:1 correllation between Vice President Joe Biden visiting China and fights breaking out between Chinese and U.S. basketball teams on “goodwill” tours. Just a little something for the U.S. diplomatic corps to keep in mind.

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