Almost 600 primary school students from China and Japan held their own version of ping-pong diplomacy with a mass table tennis tournament on Thursday in Beijing.
"China and Japan have witnessed rapid growth in fields of politics, economy, culture and sports since the normalization of bilateral relations in 1972," said Xu Yinsheng, general director of the China Table Tennis Association and a veteran ping-pong player at the opening ceremony.
"Sports exchanges have had delightful outcomes and played a positive role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples," Xu said.
"I hope participants from both countries will not only exchange skills during the games but also use their bats as bridges linking the two countries," Xu said.
In 1956, the Chinese table tennis team was invited to take part in the 23rd world championship held in Tokyo, the first sports exchange between the two countries since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, a big event in the history of China-Japan sports exchanges.
The table tennis was one of a series of activities celebrating 2007 China-Japan Culture and Sports Year.
Kato Koichi, member of Japan's House of Representatives and former Secretary-General of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said participants wearing the same sportswear would play together in the next four days, which would help strengthen future bilateral relations.