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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Yao to court the world for Shanghai

By  Xie Yu  (China Daily)

08:26, December 06, 2011

Yao Ming receives the letter of appointment at a meeting of the Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association in Shanghai, on Monday, after being chosen as deputy chairman of the association. Fan Jun / Xinhua

SHANGHAI - Chinese basketball's big man, the retired NBA star Yao Ming, accepted his first semi-official position on Monday to work toward boosting Shanghai's international image.

Yao, a Shanghai native, was chosen as the deputy chairman of the Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association (SPDA). The semi-official organization, under the Shanghai Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, was set up to build on the relationship between the city's people and government and the world.

"As I understand it, sports is a very important part of public diplomacy," Yao said, citing the example of Ping-Pong Diplomacy. He said he will learn from that precedent and use his influence in China and the US to boost communication, understanding and cooperation.

In April 1971, China invited the US Table Tennis Team, which was in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship, to visit China. It was a significant step China made toward re-establishing Sino-US relations.

Yao said that he is thankful for the opportunity and looks forward to helping promote Shanghai's international image.

Retiring as a professional basketball player in July after eight years in NBA, Yao now runs a restaurant, basketball club and winery, and studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

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