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.
During a meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping Thursday in China, Biden followed up on Xi's remarks by giving his own speech. And as Biden delivered his stem-winder, the White House pool reports that a "larger Chinese official" attempted to force the reporters out of the room, causing a near brawl.
"Stern shooing turned into forceful shoving," pool reporter Michael Memoli later wrote for the Los Angeles Times. "As reporters tried to stand their ground, Chinese officials locked arms and pushed forward in a show of overwhelming force."
"Officials said Biden was going on too long, though he at that point had not spoken for more than 5-6 minutes, including the consecutive translation," according to the pool report.
Reporters had difficulty hearing the speech due to the "fisticuffs" as Memoli described it, and gave up when it was clear Biden was finishing up.
Chinese officials attempted to clear the room early at a second event Thursday, though the pool report for that gathering doesn't indicate that any altercation broke out.
Apparently, reporters had been warned of potentially over-aggressive behavior from their Chinese hosts, but Memoli noted that reporters
and staff said they had never witnessed that level of "aggressive force" at such an event.