The world famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team will be playing in China for the first time in 11 years.

The team known as "the Clown Princes of Basketball" launches a four-city tour Saturday in the eastern city of Tianjin. It's part of a campaign to tap into the booming popularity of basketball in China.

The tour also includes games in Beijing, the northeastern city of Harbin and Shenzhen in the south. The Globetrotters then play in Hong Kong before leaving for Australia.

The New York-based touring team last played in China in 1993. On this tour, a 10-member squad is playing the New York Nationals, its regular opponent in U.S. games.

The Globetrotters and a Hong Kong promoter are also preparing to set up a chain of basketball training centers in China, with the first scheduled to open next year in Hong Kong.