When a Chinese basketball team got involved in an all-out brawl with the Georgetown University team in an exhibition on August 18, it revealed that no topic is off limits to the river crab. “River crab,” in Chinese pronounced “he xie,” is a pun on “harmonious society,” used by netizens to mock the word.
There was nothing “harmonious” about what happened between Georgetown and the Bayi Rockets on August 18 when they met for a game during Georgetown’s ostentatious good-will tour.
It was a physical game all the way through, but then it ended early with a few minutes remaining Bayi players started swinging and backups came onto the court wielding chairs. As the Georgetown team left the court after the fight was broke up, fans threw water bottles at them. It was an embarrassing moment that the authorities wouldn’t want too many Chinese citizens to be discussing.
The day after the fight, the authorities got around to covering Bayi’s tracks on Weibo and Youku and alerted major media networks to do the same. While there was much discussion of the fight on weibo–with most netizens expressing embarrassment–weibo search results appear to have been censored for some period the day after the fight for keywords such as “Georgetown”, “Bayi Rockets”, and “Bayi basketball.” The searches for those keywords all revealed no results, despite the event having been a hot topic in the previous 24-hours. Fight videos uploaded to Youku had mostly been deleted by the next day.
A tweet by a Guangzhou ping-pong programming director at a television station, by the username 奔呆小E, said that he received a fax telling him not to have his network report on the event:
Today at 5 o’clock, we received the provincial communications department’s fax that said we cannot report the news of the Bayi team and American college team’s fight. (It is said that America’s number two leader [Vice President] was at the scene*.) Fortunately, I myself was not planning on covering the news. After all, it is too one-sided negative news. Just seeing it on the internet is enough.
* Joe Biden had attended a previous game but was not in attendance at the game that included the fight.
One fellow Guangzhou TV man, Wu Weigang, an NBA commentator, suggested in response to the tweet: “This should be deleted.”
Another Weibo user named 勤勤幸福_明铭爱执信 said, “Originally, even sports news receives the river crab department’s attention?”
The comments in response to the noted weibo:
GZBN李俏艺 (Guangzhou TV host): What time select?
勤勤幸福_明铭爱执信：Oh, Oh, Oh ~~ This way ~~ I thought sports news would not [receive this river crab attention]
奔呆小E （the original poster):
@勤勤幸福_明铭爱执信 You forgot,basically all is like the Olympic torch running and so on.
吴炜刚 (Guangzhou NBA commentator): This should be deleted.
勤勤幸福_明铭爱执信: @奔呆小E Before there is also crab news?
奔呆小E: @勤勤幸福_明铭爱执信 There was, but I never thought it would exist in this situation. The heavens never expected the military team Bayi in a China vs. America friendly match to unexpectedly cause trouble.
勤勤幸福_明铭爱执信: Originally, even sports news receives the river crab department’s attention?!! Link to the discussion.