ping pong diplomacy

Topics: Table tennis, Vietnam War, Richard Nixon Pages: 3 (575 words) Published: April 2, 2014
Richard Nixon’s foreign policy in China was nicknamed the “ping-pong” diplomacy for

two reasons. The literal sense of the term ping-pong diplomacy – the visit by the US table tennis

team – served as just one cog in the wheel that eventually led to the normalization between the

United States and China. But from a figurative perspective, just like the political situation at

hand, the sport of ping-pong focused on delicate skill. Its onomatopoeic name implied an

interplay of initiative and response. In every sense, it served as an apt metaphor for the relations

between Washington and Peking during the Nixon era.45 Through this ping-pong diplomacy,

Nixon effectively ended two decades of China-US isolation and cut through one of the great

knots of international politics in the twentieth century.46

Ping pong diplomacy allowed the two countries to make gradual and cautious footsteps towards each other and allowed Sino-US advances in politics to occur. At the 1971 World Table Tennis Championships in Nagoya, Japan, Sino tennis player Zhang Zedong initiated conversation with the American Cowan, even though the Chinese were under instruction to not initiate greeting or conversation when meeting the Americans. When Mao read about this he seized the opportunity by inviting the US team to tour China on April 10 1971. This event ‘opened a new chapter in the relations of the American and Chinese people’. Even though the Americans suffered a brutal defeat, the event succeeded in serving as a catalyst for future visits for Kissinger and Nixon. Nixon’s trip to China would prove to be a historic event. Everything they were doing with Moscow and to end the Vietnam war hinged on the China trip. During the talks, there was an exchange of views on Sino-Us relations and international events mixed with dinners and sightseeing tours. This enabled the two sides to present the chance to talk about their views on a range of issues that had been untouched for the...
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