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June 09, 2008

Anniversary of 'Pingpong Diplomacy'

You really never know what kind of events will move the world.

This must have seemed very surreal and odd at the time.

It was an unlikely diplomatic tool amid the escalating rhetoric of the Cold War: a few paddles, a few pingpong balls and nine giddy U.S. table tennis players in a country Americans hadn't seen for decades.

Yet the week of table tennis exhibition games in China in April 1971 helped open China to the world, changed public opinion and paved the way for a groundbreaking visit from President Richard Nixon, who is credited today with restoring diplomatic ties between the nations.

More than three decades later, China and the U.S. will pay homage this week to the now-famous "pingpong diplomacy" with a three-day event at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace that culminates in a rematch between several of the original - and aging - athletes.

"Athletes." OK.

The article has lots of interesting quotes and details from that time, which some of you might remember. I don't. In April of '71 I was pooping in a diaper and I don't remember a thing from that time.

I was 26 years old.


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posted by LauraW. at 09:41 AM

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