• Opinion Flash
    May the small ball hook relations upward
    By China Daily editorial | chinawatch.cn | Updated: 2021-12-31 21:02

    In 1971, the unexpected interaction between a Chinese table tennis player and a US player at a championship game in Japan was the first serve in what has become known as the "ping pong diplomacy" between China and the United States.

    Fast forward 50 years, and with relations teetering on the brink of collapse after a precipitous decline over the past three or so years, the bat and ball are once again being called into diplomatic service, in the hope that they can give some top- swing spin to lift relations.

    On Sunday night, the International Table Tennis Federation approved the application from China and the United States to team up in the mixed doubles competition at the 2021 Houston World Table Tennis Championships being held from Tuesday through the rest of the week till Monday.

    At the banquet celebrating the 50th anniversary of ping-pong diplomacy that followed, the two pairs of mixed doubles made their first public appearance. Wang Manyu from China is partnering with US player Kanak Jha, while Lily Zhang from the US has teamed up with China's Lin Gaoyuan.

    The interaction between the players in Japan half a century ago came at a time when China and the US didn't have an embassy in each other's country, an almost negligible trade volume, and hardly any people-to-people exchanges.

    After that initial contact, the Chinese leadership invited the US table tennis team to play in China, which in turn paved the way for the two countries to establish diplomatic relations and start a relationship that has fundamentally shaped the world into what it is today.

    Now in 2021, relations between the world's two largest economies are the most important in the world, and people worldwide are hoping that some of the small table tennis ball's past magic will be repeated today.

    By seeking to enhance cultural exchanges between the two countries, the two sides are trying to melt the ice with warmth, instead of trying to break it with a hammer, something that could cause some unintended cracks.

    The youngest of the four young table tennis players, Kanak Jha, was born in the first year of the new century. The other three are also in their 20s. Their teaming up highlights that young people from the two sides of the Pacific are the future of relations.

    It is to be hoped that the latest incarnation of ping-pong diplomacy proves a worthy inheritor of its predecessor's illustrious legacy, if only by reminding people in the US how far the two countries have traveled in each other's company over the past 50 years.

    In 1971, the unexpected interaction between a Chinese table tennis player and a US player at a championship game in Japan was the first serve in what has become known as the "ping pong diplomacy" between China and the United States.

    Fast forward 50 years, and with relations teetering on the brink of collapse after a precipitous decline over the past three or so years, the bat and ball are once again being called into diplomatic service, in the hope that they can give some top- swing spin to lift relations.

    On Sunday night, the International Table Tennis Federation approved the application from China and the United States to team up in the mixed doubles competition at the 2021 Houston World Table Tennis Championships being held from Tuesday through the rest of the week till Monday.

    At the banquet celebrating the 50th anniversary of ping-pong diplomacy that followed, the two pairs of mixed doubles made their first public appearance. Wang Manyu from China is partnering with US player Kanak Jha, while Lily Zhang from the US has teamed up with China's Lin Gaoyuan.

    The interaction between the players in Japan half a century ago came at a time when China and the US didn't have an embassy in each other's country, an almost negligible trade volume, and hardly any people-to-people exchanges.

    After that initial contact, the Chinese leadership invited the US table tennis team to play in China, which in turn paved the way for the two countries to establish diplomatic relations and start a relationship that has fundamentally shaped the world into what it is today.

    Now in 2021, relations between the world's two largest economies are the most important in the world, and people worldwide are hoping that some of the small table tennis ball's past magic will be repeated today.

    By seeking to enhance cultural exchanges between the two countries, the two sides are trying to melt the ice with warmth, instead of trying to break it with a hammer, something that could cause some unintended cracks.

    The youngest of the four young table tennis players, Kanak Jha, was born in the first year of the new century. The other three are also in their 20s. Their teaming up highlights that young people from the two sides of the Pacific are the future of relations.

    It is to be hoped that the latest incarnation of ping-pong diplomacy proves a worthy inheritor of its predecessor's illustrious legacy, if only by reminding people in the US how far the two countries have traveled in each other's company over the past 50 years.

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