ping pong diplomacy

The 36-member team, which included members of the Phil-Chinese community, paid a courtesy call on Philippine Ambassador to China Erlinda Basillo, who referred to the dual meet as “ping pong diplomacy”, which is what both sides need in the face of tensions gripping the Philippines and China.

Toshiko Takeuchi’s fears of her Chinese table tennis opponents dissipated when she saw the unfamiliar players smiling and enjoying the moment. “Just like us, they are simply athletes who love pingpong,” Takeuchi, 67, said she thought during the World Table Tennis Championships here in 1971. She also had no idea that the tournament would help change the course of world history.

Can the pianist Yanni do what negotiations between U.S. and Iranian diplomats have failed to accomplish: bring a little harmony to two nations that have been adversaries for 35 years?

The book is based on the true story of the 1971 Table Tennis World Championships in Japan, where the unlikely friendship between American player Glenn Cowan and top China player Zhuang Zedong set the media ablaze and drove both administrations scrambling at the highest levels. 

Both Iranian and American football fans were brought to their knees through tragic goals in injury time in Brazil last week, perhaps a cruel reminder that sport is intrinsically apolitical. While the teams temporarily provided company for the other’s misery, it serves as a reminder of how sport has helped bring the United States and Iran together, and in some instances, made them the “strongest allies”.

The Chinese table tennis player who was instrumental in the pingpong diplomacy that paved the way for President Nixon's groundbreaking visit to China has died. Zhuang Zedong was 73. Zhuang, a three-time world champion, was a major sporting figure in China. Photographs of him with Cowan created a stir because of poor relations between their two countries.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attended a reception at the Chinese consulate in New York to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "Ping Pong Diplomacy," which helped put China-U.S. relations back on track.