China Beat Archive



Xu Guoqi

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June 24, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright June 24, 2008 Xu Guoqi. Used by permission.


2008 is China’s Olympic year, which means that the world is watching that country through the lens of both sports and politics. However, this is not the first time China has attracted global attention because of sports. The 1971-1972 Ping Pong diplomacy that Mao Zedong played with the Americans had more serious consequences than this year’s Beijing Olympic Games, since the result of the Ping Pong friendship games fundamentally changed the international political scene and reshaped the world order.

Thirty-eight years later, however, when the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Librarycelebrated the historical moment earlier this month by hosting an event called “American/Chinese Ping Pong Diplomacy: the rematch,” many people still didn’t know very much about the true story of what happened in the early 1970s or had forgotten parts of the tale that they once knew. In some cases, newspaper reports in very respectable periodicals even got some basic historical facts wrong. Two recent articles on the rematch, described below, are cases in points that illustrate a general pattern.