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China, US celebrate 50th anniversary of Ping-Pong diplomacy

By Xu Wei | | Updated: 2021-04-24 20:03
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An activity in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Ping-Pong diplomacy is held in Beijing, April 24, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Officials, scholars and former athletes celebrated the 50th anniversary of Ping-Pong diplomacy between China and the United States Saturday as they urged the two nations to pass on its spirit, manage differences and bolster exchanges.

The celebration, held by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, General Administration of Sports and China-US Friendship Association, was attended by over 400 participants, including Ping-Pong players who took part in the events 50 years ago and China's basketball chief Yao Ming.

Vice-President Wang Qishan said in a speech delivered via video link at the event that the reason why Ping-Pong diplomacy became part of history was because it fitted into the demand from people of both countries to break away the estrangement, step up communication and enhance mutual understanding.

The experience is still worthy borrowing from for the Sino-US relationship 50 years on, he said.

He hailed the extraordinary vision of late Chinese and US leaders, such as Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and President Richard Nixon, in arranging the mutual visits of bilateral Ping-Pong teams, which eventually facilitated the China visit of President Nixon in 1972 and charted the course for the normalization of bilateral relations.

Sino-American relations were forged after generations of leaders and people from various sectors devoted their wisdom and efforts into it, which deserves to be carefully cherished, he said.

With bilateral relations now at a critical juncture, Wang said there are plenty of areas for world's two largest economies to step up cooperation, enhance understanding and expand cooperation.

He highlighted the need for the two sides to draw inspiration and impetus from history, focus on cooperation, manage differences, promote exchanges and cooperation in various areas and work toward steady and healthy growth of bilateral ties, which "would be the best way to commemorate Ping-Pong diplomacy".

Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, said in a prerecorded video message that the significance of the event 50 years ago was that it showed a number of little steps are needed for major decisions to be made, and that people-to-people exchanges are an important part of US-China relations.

"So we can hope this is a symbol of the positivity in the future for America and China to continue their commitment to a peaceful and prosperous world," he said.

Jan Berris, vice-president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, said at the event that the mutual visits of Ping-Pong teams half a century ago "served to humanize each other" and gave people from both sides chances to talk to each other.

"I do believe that there are many powerful bridges that unite the two sides, and it is important to keep these bridges very strong," she said.

Berris said she hoped that spirit of humanizing each other through sports can inspire the low points of bilateral relations once again, not only in the interests of the two nations, but also the world.

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