Fintech News & Trends in Hong Kong and Asia

Sino-US pairs to usher in new chapter of Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Lin Gaoyuan (right) and Lily Zhang. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Marking the 50th anniversary of Ping-Pong Diplomacy, top paddlers from China and the United States will pair up on two teams to compete at the mixed doubles competition this week at the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Houston, Texas.

Chinese star Lin Gaoyuan will pair with Lily Zhang from the US, while American Kanak Jha will play with Wang Manyu, who won a team gold for China at the Tokyo Summer Olympics this year.

Liu Guoliang, World Table Tennis Council chair and president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, believes the China-US pairs at the World Table Tennis Championships will usher in a new chapter of Ping-Pong Diplomacy between the two nations.

"We have been thinking about how we can build on the China-US friendship started by our predecessors 50 years ago, and further enhance this relationship through sports events, sports activities and community events," said Liu.

"On this basis, the CTTA, alongside USA Table Tennis, proposed to the International Table Tennis Federation to have Chinese and American players paired up for the mixed doubles, so that these athletes, who are friends with each other, can work together in the competition, and so that fans from both countries can cheer them on, opening a new chapter of Ping-Pong Diplomacy in this new era."

Kanak Jha (left) and Wang Manyu. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

In April 1971, members of a US table tennis delegation visited China and played friendly matches. The trip paved the way for the reestablishment of Sino-US relations, which had been suspended for 22 years. Touted as one of the greatest diplomatic breakthroughs of that era, the event became known as Ping-Pong Diplomacy.

"Fifty years ago, a small exchange between players from the Chinese Table Tennis Association and USA Table Tennis has proved to be a moment of lasting significance," said Virginia Sung, chief executive officer of USA Table Tennis.

"As it did so many years ago, sports are once again showing us the power of unity, and ping-pong is once again changing the course of history."

Monday's announcement instantly became a trending topic on Chinese social media, while the hashtag "Chinese and American players form pairs at World Table Tennis Championships" had been viewed over 60 million times on Weibo by Monday afternoon.

Expectations are high for the two China-US pairs at the World Table Tennis Championships Finals.

"I'm really happy to be partnering with Lily Zhang for the mixed doubles event. She's the top table tennis player in the US. I'm not China's top player yet, but our goal is to come out on top for this event," said Lin, who currently ranks as the world's No 7 table tennis player.

"The biggest advantage about pairing with her is that she speaks Mandarin. I hope we can get into the groove soon, develop good chemistry and work hard toward a great performance. And I hope fans from both China and the US will cheer on the China-US mixed doubles pairs."