30 years of ping-pong diplomacy

A table-tennis match on Jan. 7 in Beijing marked the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of normalized diplomatic relations between China and the United States on Jan. 1, 1979. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, center left, and China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya, center right, attended. In April 1971, China invited the U.S. ...

589752_090107_ping_pong5.jpg
589752_090107_ping_pong5.jpg

A table-tennis match on Jan. 7 in Beijing marked the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of normalized diplomatic relations between China and the United States on Jan. 1, 1979. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, center left, and China's Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya, center right, attended.

In April 1971, China invited the U.S. table-tennis team to visit in what Time magazine called "the ping heard round the world." One of the Americans was then 15-year-old Judy Bochenski Hoarfrost, right, who returned today to play veteran Chinese player Qi Baoxiang, left. The 1971 visit launched an era of "Ping-Pong diplomacy," and according to Time, "Probably never before in history has a sport been used so effectively as a tool of international diplomacy." Obviously, with the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it hasn't been the only time China has used sports to try to improve its image.

See also:

A table-tennis match on Jan. 7 in Beijing marked the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of normalized diplomatic relations between China and the United States on Jan. 1, 1979. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, center left, and China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya, center right, attended.

In April 1971, China invited the U.S. table-tennis team to visit in what Time magazine called “the ping heard round the world.” One of the Americans was then 15-year-old Judy Bochenski Hoarfrost, right, who returned today to play veteran Chinese player Qi Baoxiang, left. The 1971 visit launched an era of “Ping-Pong diplomacy,” and according to Time, “Probably never before in history has a sport been used so effectively as a tool of international diplomacy.” Obviously, with the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it hasn’t been the only time China has used sports to try to improve its image.

See also:

Photo: Andy Wong-pool/Getty Images

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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