Analysis: Can the US and China ping-pong their way to peace again?

Players from the 2 nations will be a part of within the combined doubles competitors within the World Table Tennis Championships in Houston this week to mark a milestone in sporting and diplomatic historical past.

Fifty years in the past, Chinese chief Mao Zedong invited the US desk tennis workforce to China. The collection of pleasant matches that adopted helped break the ice forward of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s groundbreaking and secret journey to China months later — which led to President Richard Nixon’s opening to the then-reclusive big and finally put it on the trail to as we speak’s rising superpower standing.

If ever a brand new goodwill breakthrough was wanted, it’s now. US-China relations are at their lowest ebb since China reopened to the world, with disputes boiling over Taiwan, human rights, the oppression of Uyghur Muslims and Beijing’s army build-up.

The Pentagon was not too long ago alarmed by Beijing’s check of a hypersonic weapon, and virtually each main strategic choice in Washington is considered by the prism of a constructing confrontation with China. Although Biden spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping final week hoping to ease tensions, he’s now below political stress to name a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

It’s quite a bit for just a few rubber paddles and a few bouncing plastic balls to repair. But ping-pong has labored earlier than.

Two pairs will attempt to bridge the geopolitical divide in Texas: Lin Gaoyuan of China will workforce up with Lily Zhang of the United States, whereas the US’s Kanak Jha will play with Wang Manyu of China.

Liu Guoliang, who chairs the World Table Tennis Council, described the event in Houston as not simply an opportunity to restore relations throughout the Pacific, but in addition a conquer the pandemic.

“These athletes, who are friends with each other, can work together in the competition; so that fans from both countries can cheer them on, opening a new chapter of Ping Pong Diplomacy in this new era,” Liu mentioned.


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