After more than two decades without diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, in 1971 an American and a Chinese ping pong player exchanged gifts following a chance encounter on a team bus during a competition in Japan. After this unlikely interaction, the U.S. national table tennis team was invited to China; the athletes and their entourage became the first American group to travel to the country in decades. One year later, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations organized a visit of the Chinese table tennis team as it traveled across the United States. And so “Ping Pong Diplomacy” began.

Below is a collection of interviews, events, and photos commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy.

New Interview

Ping Pong Diplomacy’s 50-year Legacy: The Courtside View with Jan Berris

National Committee Vice President Jan Berris tells stories from her Ping Pong Diplomacy days and reflects on the legacy of the ping pong teams’ visits to each country on U.S.-China relations today.


Past Events

Ping Pong Diplomacy: U.S.-China Exchange Then and Now

Jing Tsu and Pete Millwood discussed the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy and cultural exchange in the context of the U.S.-China relationship in a conversation with Keisha Brown.


People-to-People Exchange: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy

Jan Berris, Judy Hoarfrost, and Doug Spelman discussed Ping Pong Diplomacy – how it came to be, its historical and political context, and its significance then and now – at a NCUSCR event on April 28, 2021. The event was moderated by Alex DeAngelis.


Photo Gallery

Related Graphics

Check back as we continue to update this webpage with new videos, resources, graphics, and more.