WASHINGTON - The United States and China on Tuesday highlighted major sports exchange programs between them, a reminder of the important role sports play in bringing their people together as "ping pong diplomacy" did forty years ago.
The programs were highlighted at the second annual high-level US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) co-chaired by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and visiting Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong, who both hailed the importance of people-to-people engagement.
Under the programs, the State Department's SportsUnited Office, in cooperation with the National Basketball Association, brought Chinese basketball coaches and physical education teachers to the United States in February 2011 for the first-ever basketball Sports Visitor Program with China, which focused on teaching and motivating young athletes.
Georgetown University's men's basketball team will travel to Shanghai and Beijing in the summer of 2011 to play exhibition games, attend cultural events and participate in community service activities, the State Department said in a press release.
On soccer, twelve Shanghai Football Association coaches traveled to the United States in June 2010 on a SportsUnited training program focused on developing and managing youth soccer teams and coaching techniques for young players.
In July 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University will send US soccer experts to Shanghai, where they will run coaching and management clinics, the press release said, adding that under a SportsUnited grant to Mobility International USA, sports professionals from Guangzhou, China, will travel to Eugene, Oregon, in 2011 for a program on disability inclusive sports.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) signed a bilateral agreement on cooperation with the Chinese Olympic Committee in 2010. In 2011, a delegation from the Chinese General Administration of Sports will visit the USOC Olympic Training Centers to "share best practices on sports venues," the press release said.
Forty years ago, "ping pong diplomacy" paved the way for the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and China. Since then, sports have continued to play a vital role in bringing the two peoples together, the press release noted.
"The small ball gave a push to the big globe, and since then, China-US relations have embarked on the journey of improvement and development," Liu said on Tuesday before the CPE meeting.
The US and Chinese Olympic Committees will exchange delegations of their Table Tennis Associations this year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the "ping pong diplomacy," the press release said.
The CPE was launched in May 2010 in Beijing to enhance and strengthen China-US ties in the areas of women's issues, education, culture, sports, and science and technology.