From 1949 to 1972 there were no diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. No group of Americans had been invited to China since the Communist takeover in 1949 but that all changed with “The ping heard round the world”. Ping-Pong Diplomacy begun in April of 1971 when the U.S. Table Tennis team was participating in a World Table Tennis Championship in Japan when they received a surprise invitation to visit China. Nine American players, four officials and two spouses spent 7 days in China playing exhibition matches with their hosts, touring the Great Wall and Summer Palace, conversed with Chinese factory workers and students, and attended the Canton ballet. All while the American public followed the progress of this visit daily through the newspaper and on television. The visit opened a new door that changed the relations with the people of China and those of the United States as well as ended a 22 year embargo trade between the two countries. Soon later the Chinese Table Tennis team visited the U.S. in a similar manner as well as other countries to reach out to them using this Ping-Pong Diplomacy. The event showed the first instance that a sport such as Table Tennis can be used so effectively it could become a political tool for international diplomacy between nations. Even so that just a few months after the trip by the U.S. team President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger secretly visited Peking and a Presidential visit to China was arranged. As the first President of the U.S. to do so President Richard Nixon then journeyed to China in what would become one of the most important events in U.S. history. It was all a result of Ping-Pong Diplomacy.
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