Chinese press minders twice broke into altercations Thursday with American reporters covering Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to China.
The trouble began when the press were allowed to watch the start of a meeting between Biden and the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. According to the LA Times, an agreement had been reached that the two Vice Presidents would deliver brief opening remarks, and then the press would leave so the meeting could go on in private.
Biden’s remarks, however, seemed to go on a little long for the taste of the Chinese organizers. According to the Financial Times, as he launched into some anodyne remarks on the economy, Chinese officials began to whisper, “Why is he talking for so long?”Pretty soon, they were jostling the the media to leave. US reporters resisted, saying it was important to listen to the whole speech. The LA Times reports on what happened next:
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. Soon enough Biden did finish, but reporters had difficulty hearing the entire thing because of the fisticuffs.
Apparently this wasn’t the end of it. Hours later, when Biden was meeting another official, minders from the Chinese Foreign Ministry once again tried to hustle reporters out of the room while the Vice President was still speaking.
On Friday Biden is due to meet with China’s President, Hu Jintao.