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.
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.
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.
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.
“When Nixon Met Mao: Ping-pong Tables Charted a Path to the Negotiating Tables” by Mark Magnier in the South China Morning Post
“A Lifetime Later, The Show Still Goes On” by Zhao Xu in China Daily
“Ping-Pong Diplomacy: NGOs and International Relations” by Rachel Wimpee for the Rockefeller Archive Center
“Ping-Pong Diplomacy and U.S.-China Relations: The Game and the Players that Changed the Course of History” by Mike Hodgkinson in the South China Morning Post
“Fifty Years on, we Could Learn Still from U.S.-China ‘Ping-Pong Diplomacy” by Robert Hormats in The Hill
50 Years of People to People Exchange 跨越半个世纪的人文交流 (In Chinese)
Check back as we continue to update this webpage with new videos, resources, graphics, and more.