Beijing, 19 December 2023 (TDI): To commemorate the beginning of China-US relations, The Chinese Embassy in New York, celebrated the 52nd anniversary of Ping-pong diplomacy on 13th December 2023. It was to celebrate the iconic matches of 1971 which were prolog to the establishment of diplomatic relations among both countries.
On the 52nd anniversary of Ping-Pong Diplomacy, Xie Feng China’s 12th ambassador to the US played a friendly match with Connie Mae Sweeris. She is one of the nine players from a US table tennis team that made a historic trip to China in 1971.
To commemorate the friendship and strengthen the relationships among both countries, Ambassador Xie Feng reiterated that, “The China-US relationship is again at a crossroads. We need to re-break the ice between our countries, reinvigorate exchanges between our peoples, and embark on a new journey in the China-US relationship. The pressing priority is to follow up on the San Francisco summit, faithfully implement the common understandings reached between our Presidents, and turn the San Francisco vision into reality.”
In his address, Ambassador Xie Feng appreciated the role played by Ping-Pong diplomacy in on setting the relationships between China and US in 1971.
Similarly, he also stressed upon the implementation of the San Francisco Summit held in November 2023. Both events hold a vital role in China-US relations as one marks the beginning of relations and other recent developments.
Ping-Pong Diplomacy 1971
On 6th April 1971, the American Ping-Pong team was in Japan. They received an invitation from China to pay an all-expense paid visit to China. On 10th April 1971, the nine players along with four officials landed in Mainland China marking the first instance of relations between China and the US. Time magazine quoted this event as “The Ping heard round the world.”
Ten journalists and five Americans also accompanied the players on their first-ever visit to the People’s Republic of China. The journalists covered the whole event. They also provided details of other side visits from 11th to 17th April. Thus injecting a positive vibe among people of both countries.
On 14th April 1971, the then-Chinese Premier Chou En Lai hosted all Americans at a banquet in the Great Hall of People. He warmly greeted them and said,
“You have opened a new chapter in the relations of the American and Chinese people. I am confident that this beginning of our friendship will certainly meet with the majority support of our two peoples.”
That warm welcome was reciprocated by the US on the same day. It lifted a 20-year embargo on trade with China. Moreover, a Chinese ping-pong team was also invited to play in the United States. After such an exchange of greetings, the China-US relations formally normalized under President Richard Nixon Era.
San Francisco Summit 2023
Over 52 years, China-US diplomatic relations witnessed a bumpy ride of open trade and embargos. A recent development signaled another period of warm relations among both countries. On Wednesday, 15th November 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with US President Joe Biden. The meeting happened on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco.
Both presidents had a two-hour-long meeting and made several decisions to strengthen their relationship. They agreed to resume direct military-to-military communication which was severed after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan.
They also decided to promote and strengthen cooperation between both countries by establishing intergovernmental dialogues on Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, the setting up of a China-US drug control cooperation working group to carry out anti-drug cooperation was also an important discussion of the meeting.
In the end, to bolster relationships between both countries the ambassador also concentrated on the fact that both countries hold the potential to prosper together.
“Ping-pong diplomacy not only marks a significant chapter in history but also represents a spirit that transcends time and space. The small ping-pong table can be a broad arena for athletes from both countries to bring out their best.
He further said, The vast Earth is big enough for China and the United States to prosper together. Let’s join hands to write more stories of friendship between our peoples and explore the right way for our two countries to get along in the new era.”