CHINA / DIPLOMACY
China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy celebrated in US
Published: Jul 07, 2011 10:26 AM Updated: Jul 07, 2011 10:30 AM

A reception was held here Tuesday to mark the 40th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy, which led to the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States.

"Forty years ago, thanks to the extraordinary strategic vision and remarkable diplomatic skills of our leaders of the older generation, that magic small ball (pingpong) successfully gave a big push to the big ball of China-US relations," Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong said in a congratulation letter, which was read at the reception.

"In the course of the growth of the China-US relationship, people-to-people interactions, including sports exchanges, play an indispensable part. That makes the observance of Ping Pong Diplomacy even more necessary and important today," she said.

Liu expressed the hope that people-to-people exchanges, including sports exchanges, like the "Ping Pong Diplomacy" 40 years ago, could help further boost the China-US cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and benefit in the new era.

In 1971, nine American table tennis players were invited to Beijing for exhibition games with Chinese players, helping break the ice between China and the United States.

In February 1972, US President Richard Nixon paid a visit to China. The two countries eventually forged diplomatic ties in 1979.

At Tuesday's reception, Gao Zhansheng, Consul General of China in San Francisco, said Ping Pong Diplomacy served as a perfect example of how people-to-people exchanges could spearhead a country-to-country relationship.

Gao's comments were echoed by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.

When people begin to play sports on an international level, they will begin to talk to each other and better understand each other's cultures, Lee said.

Vice Minister of China's General Administration of Sport Cai Zhenhua told the reception various exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States were now "at a new historical stand point."

"We shall continue what we started. Together with our American friends in the sports circle, we will strengthen China-US sports exchanges, promoting the understanding and friendship between players and people in general, so as to promote the China-US relations to a new height," he said.

Cai is leading a Chinese delegation of table tennis Olympians, sports officials, and members of the team who played in the exhibition matches in 1971, to participate in celebrations of Ping Pong Diplomacy held in Milwaukee, San Francisco and Los Angeles from July 1 to 9.


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