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Stars mark 40 years of Ping-Pong Diplomacy

By Wu Jiao  (China Daily)

08:08, December 09, 2011

Vice-President Xi Jinping and former US president Jimmy Carter sign ping-pong paddles, in Beijing on Dec 8, at an event that marks the 40th anniversary of Ping-Pong Diplomacy, which broke the ice for Sino-US relations. (China Daily/Wu Zhiyi)

BEIJING - Four decades on from their landmark match in Beijing that helped bring Sino-US relations out of the deep freeze, ping-pong maestros of the 1970s from the two nations reunited in the Chinese capital on Thursday.

Champions from yesterday and today from China and the US met to play an exhibition game at the Great Hall of the People to commemorate the Ping-Pong Diplomacy in 1971 that helped to bridge the two countries.

Vice-President Xi Jinping and former US president Jimmy Carter were among the hundreds in attendance to cheer them on.

Among the 14 players between the ages of 66 and 20, several of them played in Beijing in 1971, and the rest were from the current crop of ping-pong stars from the two countries, including 35-year-old world champion Wang Liqin.

Liang Geliang, 61, a former world champion who played in the 1971 exhibition match and is a household name in China, said it was exciting to play at the anniversary event.

Connie Sweeris, 64, who played in the 1971 match, said many cultural exchanges have taken place since that landmark event.

Noting that some Chinese sports stars are now playing in the US, and some US sports stars are now getting popular in China, Sweeris said "sports is a very good way" to promote understanding between the two countries.

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