Zheng Minzhi, witness of the Ping-Pong Diplomacy, recalls historical moment of Nixon's visit to China
Published: Feb 28, 2022 12:49 AM
Editor's Note:

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of President Nixon's visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué, the first joint communiqué issued by China and the United States, which established the guidelines for the development of bilateral relations, especially the one-China principle. It has become the political foundation for the normalization of China-US relations and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Global Times interviewed five Chinese witnesses based in Shanghai recalling their role in the visit by Nixon five decades ago.

Here is the story of Zheng Minzhi, a member of the Chinese table tennis delegation that traveled to the US in 1972.

Zheng Minzhi Photo: Global Times

Zheng Minzhi Photo: Global Times

On the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of former US President Richard Nixon's visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué, famous table tennis player Zheng Minzhi, one of the members of the Chinese table tennis delegation that traveled to the US in 1972, recalled the historical trip in Shanghai.

Zheng said she has truly realized that the 50 years of development of China and US relations are not easy. 

She expressed her appreciation over late Chairman Mao Zedong and late Premier Zhou Enlai's forward-looking strategy of using a small table tennis ball to open up the gates to diplomacy.

After the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué, "I visited the US with the Chinese table tennis delegation," Zheng recalled. At the White House, President Nixon met them saying they were the first to open the door to China-US friendship, Zheng remarked, noting that the people and athletes from both countries were the biggest winners.

Zheng recalled the historical moments with excitement. "President Nixon said the friendship between the Chinese and American people would surely bring good for world peace," she noted.

During their visit in the US in 1972, Zheng and all the team members received a warm and friendly reception from the American people and from athletes in the US. Zheng still remembers that there were a lot of students welcoming them everywhere they went.

Zheng also recalled her experience talking with Connie Sweeris,  one of the members of the 1971 US team to China and her husband, Dell Sweeris, in 2021 through video link during an interview with the Global Times. 

"We all talked about how it felt the first time we came to the US or they came to China," Zheng said, adding that "they were received by then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai with the highest honor."

Despite decades have passed, their friendship keeps going. They talked about their kids and asked if they like to play Ping-Pong. Sweeris said they still want to do something for China-US friendship together with the US Table Tennis Association in the future, according to Zheng.

"Thinking about how hard it was 50 years ago, we finally broke the ice. China and the US have every reason to keep sound relations," Zheng said.