LOS ANGELES, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese and American
ping-pong players held a rematch on Thursday to commemorate the ping-pong
diplomacy that saw Sino-U.S. relations normalized.
In the rematch held at the Nixon presidential library
in Yorba Linda, near Los Angeles, the Chinese delegation won three of four
matches against their American counterparts.
China's Liang Geliang, three-time
International Table Tennis Federation champion, shakes hands
with American George Braithwaite, winner of more than 70 table tennis
championships iat the Nixon presidential library in Yorba Linda, near Los
Angeles June 12. Chinese and American ping-pong players held a rematch on
Thursday to commemorate the ping-pong diplomacy that saw Sino-U.S.
relations normalized. (Xinhua Photo)
The outcome of the friendly matches is a reminder
that table tennis is China's national pastime, said Sandy Quinn of the Richard
Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation.
The two-hour competition started about 10:30 a.m.,
after a colorful ceremony featuring Chinese drummers, lion dancers, acrobats and
other performers. The matches were followed by farewell and awards ceremonies.
More than 350 fans, dignitaries and reporters packed
into the library's White House East Room replica to catch the action that Quinn
said was at its stunning best.
Although the competition was fierce, the emphasis on friendship permeated the day, with the repeated mantra of "Friendship First, Competition Second," Quinn said.
Former Chinese table tennis player Liang Geliang (1st L) displays the calligraphy scroll as a present to George Braithwaite of the U.S. (2nd R) after the exhibition match of "American/Chinese Ping Pong Diplomacy: The Rematch" at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California of the United States June 12, 2008. A three-day event commemorating the era of ping-pong diplomacy that ushered in the normalization of U.S.- China relations got under way on Tuesday.(Xinhua Photo)
The morning matches featured top Chinese and American
players, highlighted by the "rematch" between original members of the 1971
teams, China's Liang Geliang, three-time International Table Tennis Federation
champion, and American George Braithwaite, winner of more than 70 table tennis
Although Liang won in four sets in the best-of-five
match, the two men embraced after the match, Quinn said.
Liang said in a prepared statement after the match
that the past 37 years had seen "a lot in the development of China-U.S.
relations in the fields of politics, economy and trade, cultural exchange, etc."
"The understanding and friendship between our two
peoples have been promoted to an unprecedented level," Liang said.
"The upcoming Beijing Olympics is a golden
opportunity for China and countries around the world to promote understanding
and friendship among each other. It's my devout hope that both the Chinese and
American players can give a good account of themselves and present us some
The rematch commemorates table tennis competition
between U.S. and Chinese players in 1971 and 1972 that have been credited with
helping thaw Sino-American relations. Pundits of the era coined the term