Ping-Pong exchange promotes understanding between future generations of China, US

By China Daily | | Updated: 2024-01-09 21:56
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Xu Yinsheng, the honorary life chairman of the International Table Tennis Federation, and Zhang Yining, former Olympic and world champion, present winners of the games with the award. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Twelve students from the University of Virginia in the United States took on their peers from Fudan University and Shanghai University of Sports in a ping-pong tour on Tuesday in Shanghai, in a display of youth friendship and sports diplomacy.

Given that this year marks the 45th anniversary of China-US diplomatic relations, the competition brought together the next generation from both countries.

The matches saw teams collaborate across borders, cheering on one another. "We name this activity as 'rekindling Ping-Pong Diplomacy', which implies our hope of using ping-pong to strengthen ties between young people in China and the US.

They hold the key to our future," said Fu Jihong, vice president of the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. 

The exchange is part of the UVA students' ping-pong diplomacy tour, which attempts to better understand the role that cultural and educational exchanges, as well as civilian diplomacy, have had in the development of China-US relations.

Shanghai is their final stop on this trip after visiting Hong Kong and Beijing. It recalls the historic 1971 visit by the US ping-pong team to China, which is credited with reopening diplomatic channels between China and the US in what became known as "Ping-Pong Diplomacy".

Since that ice-breaking moment more than half a century ago, person-to-person bonds have played an important supportive role in the evolving relationship between the two nations, said Bruce Reynolds, retired professor of UVA and also a witness to the Ping-Pong Diplomacy. 

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