China-U.S. basketball "friendly" erupts into brawl

Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:35am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden built trust with China in Beijing's corridors of power, goodwill between the two nations unravelled Thursday night on a nearby basketball court, where players traded kicks and punches and even a chair was thrown.

A "friendship" game between Washington's Georgetown Hoyas and Chinese professional side the Bayi Military Rockets erupted into a brawl as the match wound down at Beijing's Olympic Stadium. It was unclear what triggered the fighting.

Players exchanged blows, someone in the crowd flung a chair, and fans tossed full water bottles at the Hoyas players and coaches as they headed to the locker room, writing off the rest of the game.

In China, state media did not report on the incident and microblogs were mostly silent as censors worked quickly to delete any references to the fight.

"Even the news about the fight between the Chinese and U.S. basketball teams needs to be cut," said a microblogger named Yinnu.

The brawl broke out one night after Biden, who is in Beijing on a four-day visit to discuss U.S.-Chinese economic relations, attended a Georgetown game against another Chinese club. That game, which Georgetown won, passed without a fist fight.

The games are part of a "China-U.S. Basketball Friendship Match" in Beijing, according to the Washington Post. The Hoyas were on a 10-day trip in China, including other scheduled matches in Shanghai.

Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told reporters at a briefing that the fist fight was a "small incident".

"But it is my understanding that this morning the skies have cleared," he said. "The two sides have made up."   Continued...

<p>Players from American Georgetown University men's basketball team and China's Bayi men's basketball team fight during a basketball friendly game at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Arena August 18, 2011. REUTERS/China Daily</p>