Report: 30th Anniversary of Sino-U.S. Diplomatic
by Xinhua Writers Xiong Zhengyan, Tan Jingjing
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang
Guangya (8th L) and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte (6th
L) pose for a group photo during the Friendship Ping-pong Match marking
the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the China-U.S. diplomatic
relations, at the State General Administration of Sport in Beijing,
capital of China, Jan. 7, 2009. In 1971, a U.S. ping-pong team visited
China after years of estrangement and antagonism between the two
countries, opening the door for the China-U.S. people-to-people contacts.
BEIJING, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- They are not common diplomatic
tools: several paddles, a few ping pong balls and some table tennis players from
China and the United States.
But the fact that nine American table tennis players
were invited to Beijing for exhibition games with Chinese players in April 1971
did break the ice between the two nations.
Thirty-eight years after those historic games,
players from the two nations lined up for a rematch in the Chinese capital on
First came the 1971 U.S. team's youngest member, Judy
"When I first came to China in 1971, I didn't know
the significance at first. As we went to China right away after the invitation,
so we didn't have chance to really learn until we left China," Hoarfrost told
Xinhua while warming up for a match with a veteran Chinese player, Qi Baoxiang.
The invitation from China came during the 31st World
Championships in Nagoya, Japan where the Chinese team was competing for the
first time in two years.
Just two days later, nine U.S. team members crossed
into the Chinese mainland from Hong Kong, becoming the first group of Americans
to visit the Chinese mainland since 1949.
"My picture with Premier Zhou Enlai was on the front
page of all the newspapers around the world. When I went back, everybody was so
interested. I was only 15 years old, but they had all questions for me like I
knew something special about China. Just because I had been there," Hoarfrost
"It (Ping Pong diplomacy) is the first step of the
march towards the relations between the two countries. It played a very
important role," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte at the
friendship game, a tribute to three-decade China-U.S. diplomatic ties.
Negroponte was the highest ranking U.S. official to
come to China for a series of commemorative events marking the 30th anniversary
Although the 51-year-old Hoarfrost lost to Qi by 3 to
11, she said she enjoyed the match. "Ping Pong really can bring people
The match not only helped the veterans revive the old
memories, but also connected the younger generations between the two nations.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D.
Negroponte (R) poses with former Chinese ping-pong world champion Liang
Geliang during the Friendship Ping-pong Match marking the 30th anniversary
of the establishment of the China-U.S. diplomatic relations, at the State
General Administration of Sport in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 7,
2009. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)
As the representative of the U.S. junior players,
Ariel Hsing said she was "very excited to be a Ping Pong diplomat."
After winning the 2nd place Women's Singles at U.S.
National Championships last December, the 13-year-old was picked to play in
Wednesday's friendship match.
Hsing's fast break play on both sides of the paddle
enabled her to beat her Chinese opponent Chen Meng in 15-minute-long match.
"I was just lucky to win. She played very well,"
Hsing said of Chen, a member of Chinese women team wining the 2008 Asia Juvenile
"Good job," Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Wang
Guangya told Hsing, a Chinese American born in San Jose, California.
"The rematch helped pass down the old friendship to
the younger generation," said Liang Geliang, a top player who played against the
U.S. team in Beijing in 1971.
As the finale of Wednesday's match, Liang and Hsing
played together against another pair of Qi and Peter Li, the other junior
Their two matches went to the wire and ended in a
tie, bringing down the house.
Since her first tour in 1971, Hoarfrost has visited
China five times, all in the name of Ping Pong diplomacy.
"So many changes in China. People are much better
educated now, have much more communications with other countries. People travel
out of China and bring back what they learn. People have many more opportunities
Changes also took place in the China-U.S. relations
over the past 30 years. "We now have a very broad and deep relationship in many
different walks of lives, politically, socially, economically, and in terms of
science and education," said Negroponte.
Looking to the future, Negroponte said there are
"many different possibilities" for the U.S.-China relations. "I am sure the next
30 years will be even better."
"I'm very happy to win. I hope I can make it to the
2012 London Olympics," Hsing said with excitement. "I hope to get involved in
Ping Pong diplomacy again."