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Encyclopedia > Ping Pong Diplomacy
Three-Time World Men's Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) and U.S. team member Glenn Cowan (right) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, 1971.
Three-Time World Men's Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) and U.S. team member Glenn Cowan (right) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, 1971.

Ping Pong Diplomacy (Chinese: 乒乓外交) refers to the cultural exchange of ping pong players of the United States and People's Republic of China (PRC) in the 1970s. This marked a thaw in U.S.-China relations that led the way to a visit to Beijing by President Richard Nixon. Image File history File linksMetadata Zhuang_Zedong_Glenn_Cowan. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Zhuang_Zedong_Glenn_Cowan. ... Three-Time World Mens Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) and U.S. team member Glenn Cowan (right) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, on April 6, 1971. ... Glenn Cowan (right) and the three-time World Mens Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, on April 6, 1971. ... Nagoya Castle in June of 2004. ... Jan-Ove Waldner at the 2004 Olympics Table tennis (also known affectionately as Ping pong) is a sport where two or four players hit a ball back and forth to each other. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... Sino-American relations (Simplified Chinese: 中美关系; pinyin: Zhōng-MÄ›i Guānxì) refers to international relations between the United States and China. ... Richard Nixon met with Mao Zedong in 1972. ...


On 6 April 1971 the U.S. Table Tennis team was in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship when they received an invitation from their PRC counterparts to visit the PRC. On 12 April 1971 the team and accompanying journalists became the first Americans to set foot in the PRC capital since Mao's communist party had come to power 22 years earlier, in 1949. The meeting was facilitated by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. April 6 is the 96th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (97th in leap years). ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ... April 12 is the 102nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (103rd in leap years). ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ...   (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976) (also Mao Tse-Tung in Wade-Giles transliteration) was a Chinese Marxist military and political leader, who led the Chinese Communist Party to victory against the Kuomintang (KMT) in the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China... This article is about communism as a form of society and as a political movement. ... 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ...


According to History of U.S. Table Tennis by Tim Boggan, who went to China along with the U.S. Table Tennis Team, three incidents may have either singularly or jointly triggered the invitation from China...


The first is that Welshman H. Roy Evans, the President of the International Table Tennis Federation of that time, claimed that he visited China prior to the 31st World Table Tennis Championship and suggested to the Chinese sports authorities and Premier Zhou Enlai, that China should take steps to get in contact with the world through international sport events after the Cultural Revolution. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is the governing body for all national table tennis associations. ... This is a Chinese name, Zhou is the surname. ... The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Simplified Chinese: , Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Wúchǎn Jiējí Wénhuà Dà Gémìng; literally Proletarian Cultural Great Revolution; often abbreviated to 文化大革命 wénhuà dà gémìng, literally Great Cultural Revolution, or even simpler, to 文革 wéngé, Cultural Revolution) in the People...


The second was because of Leah "Miss Ping" Neuberger, the American who was the 1956 World Mixed Doubles Champion and nine times U.S. Open Women's Singles Champion, was traveling at the time with the Canadian Table Tennis Team that had been invited by China to visit the country. As part of diplomatic tactics, China extended its approval of Leah Neuberger's application for a visa to the entire American team.


The third incident, perhaps the most likely trigger, especially according to sources of information from China, was the unexpected but dramatic meeting between the flamboyant American player Glenn Cowan and the Chinese player Zhuang Zedong, a three-time world champion (1961, 1963 and 1965) and champion at numerous other table tennis events. Glenn Cowan (right) and the three-time World Mens Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, on April 6, 1971. ... Three-Time World Mens Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) and U.S. team member Glenn Cowan (right) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, on April 6, 1971. ...


It just so happened that Glenn Cowan missed his team bus one afternoon in Nagoya during the 31st World Table Tennis Championship after his practice in one of the training areas. Cowan had been practicing for 15 minutes with the Chinese player, Liang Geliang, when a Japanese official came and wanted to close the training area. Nagoya Castle in June of 2004. ...


As Glenn Cowan looked in vain for his team bus, a Chinese player waved to him to get on his Chinese team bus. Moments after his casual talking through an interpreter to the Chinese players, Zhuang Zedong came up to him from his back seat to greet him and presented him with a silk-screen portrait of Huangshan Mountains, a famous product of such kind from Hangzhou. Cowan wanted to give something back, but all he could find from his bag was a comb and he said, "Jesus Christ, I can't give you a comb. I wish I could give you something, but I can't." position in China The Huang Shan (Chinese: 黄山; Pinyin: Huáng Shān; literally Yellow Mountain) is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. ... Old houses of Hangzhou in oil painting by Chen Cheng-po. ...


When it was time for them to get off the bus, hordes of politically sensitive photographers and journalists were waiting for them.


Glenn Cowan later found and bought a T-shirt with a red, white and blue, peace emblem flag and the words "Let It Be". At another chance meeting with Zhuang Zedong, he gave the gift to Zhuang and the latter took it. An emblem consists of a pictorial image, abstract or representational, that epitomizes a concept - often a concept of a moral truth or an allegory. ...


When a journalist asked Cowan, "Mr. Cowan, would you like to visit China?"


He answered, "Well, I'd like to see any country I haven't seen before--Argentina, Australia, China, ... Any country I haven't seen before."


"But what about China in particular? Would you like to go there?"


"Of course," said Glenn Cowan.


During an interview in 2002 with the famous TV personality Chen Luyu, Zhuang Zedong told more of the story. Three-Time World Mens Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) and U.S. team member Glenn Cowan (right) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, on April 6, 1971. ...


"The trip on the bus took 15 minutes, and I hesitated for 10 minutes. I grew up with the slogan 'Down with the American imperialism!' And during the Cultural Revolution, the string of class struggle was tightened unprecedentedly, and I was asking myself, 'Is it okay to have anything to do with your No. 1 enemy?'" The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Simplified Chinese: , Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Wúchǎn Jiējí Wénhuà Dà Gémìng; literally Proletarian Cultural Great Revolution; often abbreviated to 文化大革命 wénhuà dà gémìng, literally Great Cultural Revolution, or even simpler, to 文革 wéngé, Cultural Revolution) in the People...


Zhuang then remembered that Chairman Mao Zedong met Edgar Snow on the Rostrum of Tiananmen on the National Day in 1970 and said to Snow that China should now place its hope on American people.   (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976) (also Mao Tse-Tung in Wade-Giles transliteration) was a Chinese Marxist military and political leader, who led the Chinese Communist Party to victory against the Kuomintang (KMT) in the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China... Edgar Snow (b. ... The Tiananmen The Gate of Heavenly Peace is the front entrance into the Imperial City A close-up of the rooftop The Tiananmen or Tiananmen (Simplified Chinese: 天安门; Traditional Chinese: 天安門; pinyin: Tiānānmén), is the main entrance to the Imperial City, the central part of Beijing, Peoples... It has been suggested that National holiday be merged into this article or section. ...


Zhuang looked in his bag and first went through some pins, badges with Mao's head, silk handkerchiefs, and fans. But he felt these were not decent enough to be a good gift. He finally picked the said silk portrait of Huangshan Mountains.


On the following day, many Japanese newspapers carried photographs of Zhuang Zedong and Glenn Cowan.


A few days later, the Chinese Department of Foreign Affairs received a report that the U.S. Table Tennis hoped to get invited to visit China. As usual, the Department declined, and Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong agreed with the decision. In the evening of the same day, however, Mao Zedong saw the news in Dacankao, a newspaper accessible only to high-ranking government officials, that Zhuang Zedong met with Glenn Cowan. This changed Mao's mind and he decided to invite the U.S. Table Tennis Team. This is a Chinese name, Zhou is the surname. ...   (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976) (also Mao Tse-Tung in Wade-Giles transliteration) was a Chinese Marxist military and political leader, who led the Chinese Communist Party to victory against the Kuomintang (KMT) in the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China...   (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976) (also Mao Tse-Tung in Wade-Giles transliteration) was a Chinese Marxist military and political leader, who led the Chinese Communist Party to victory against the Kuomintang (KMT) in the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China...


It was reported that Mao Zedong said, "This Zhuang Zedong not only plays table tennis well, but is good at foreign affairs, and he has a mind for politics."


On April 10, 1971, nine American players, four officials, and two spouses stepped across a bridge from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland and then spent their time on April 11 - 17 playing exhibition matches, touring the Great Wall and Summer Palace and watching a ballet, and so on. Great Wall can refer to several things: Great Wall of China Great Wall of Galaxies, part of the Coma Cluster This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The Summer Palace in Beijing. ... The Waltz of the Snowflakes from Tchaikovskys The Nutcracker. ...


In February, 1972, Richard Nixon paid his historic visit to China. Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ...


Two months after Richard Nixon's visit, Zhuang Zedong visited the U.S. as the head of a Chinese table-tennis delegation on April 12 - 30, 1972. Also on the itinerary of the same trip were Canada, Mexico and Peru. Three-Time World Mens Singles Champion Zhuang Zedong (left) and U.S. team member Glenn Cowan (right) on the Chinese team bus in Nagoya, Japan, on April 6, 1971. ... For other uses, see United States (disambiguation) and US (disambiguation). ...


Fictional references

In the book Forrest Gump (and the film adaptation of it), the title character was part of the US delegation. Forrest Gump is a 1985 novel by Winston Groom, a 1994 film adaptation, and the name of the title character of both. ...


External links

  • San Diego Table Tennis Association article
  • PBS article
  • Smithsonian Magazine article

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Violin Site :: Ping Pong (583 words)
Table tennis, also known as ping pong, is the second most played sport in the world as well as the newest of the world's major sports.
Ping pong ball is the official name for the sport in China.
It is played with a light, 40 millimeter diameter high-bouncing hollow celluloid ball, on a table 9 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 30 inches high with a masonite or similarly manufactured timber, coated with a low-friction, smooth coating.
Table tennis (428 words)
Table tennis (also known as ping pong, although most professionals are offended by this term) is the second most played sport in the world as well as the newest of the world's major sports.
It is played with a very light (2.7 gram), high-bouncing hollow plastic ball of 4.0 centimetres diameter, on a table 2.74 metres long, 1.525 metres wide, and 76 centimetres high with a masonite[?] or similar manufactured timber, coated with a low-friction, smooth coating.
This marked a thawing in relations with the United States that was followed up by a visit by the US president Richard Nixon.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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