China, US celebrate 48th anniversary of 'Ping-Pong Diplomacy'

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-08-23 17:37
Liu Guoliang  (C), president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, poses for a photo with China's national table tennis team at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Orange County, California, US on Aug 22, 2019.[Photo/Xinhua]

LOS ANGELES - The national table tennis teams of China and the United States gathered Thursday evening at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Orange County, California, to mark 48th anniversary of "Ping-Pong Diplomacy."

In a historic first and at the invitation of the United States Table Tennis Association (USATT) and the US Olympic Committee, China's national table tennis team, including several Olympic champions, is in Los Angeles from August 5 to 25 to practise with their US counterparts.

Ping-pong, or table tennis, has a unique and storied place in the diplomatic relations between the United States and China. 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 and laying the groundwork for the eventual establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, signs his autograph on a shirt at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Orange County, California,US Aug 22, 2019.[Photo/Xinhua]

In his address to hundreds of attendees, Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, pointed out that the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum is a historic place to celebrate the 48th anniversary of Ping-Pong Diplomacy.

"Since the small ping-pong ball played a big role 48 years ago, China and US table tennis players have kept close contact and communication and developed a long-term friendship with each other," said Liu, adding that the two teams reinforced their historical bond by joining together for practice in Los Angeles.

Virginia Sung, CEO of USATT, noted that the unprecedented joint training sessions of Chinese and American national table tennis teams "continues the legacy of Ping-Pong Diplomacy" and "opens a new chapter in our joint efforts to promote table tennis on the world stage."

Liu Guoliang  (C), president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, poses for a photo with guests at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Orange County, California, US on Aug 22, 2019.[Photo/Xinhua]

"I am pleased to note that, over the years, the legacy of Ping-Pong diplomacy has been well carried forward by generations of ping-pong athletes from both countries. By playing matches and having joint training sessions, they have not only improved their skills, but also fostered a deep friendship. They have contributed to the mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples," said Zhang Ping, Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles.

"Under the current situation, it is more important that we carry forward the legacy of Ping-Pong Diplomacy, bringing into full play the role of 'a small ball rotating a big globe'. We need to strengthen people-to-people connections, further deepen our friendship and make concerted efforts to maintain a stable and sound development of China-US relations," he noted.

Ding Ning (R) of the national table tennis team of China plays table tennis at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Orange County, California, to mark the 48th anniversary of "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" Aug 22, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]
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