Ping-Pong Diplomacy by Nicholas Griffin (3 star ratings)In the last account of Operation Mincemeat I read, I noticed a throwaway line about MI-5s Ewan Montagus Communist brother Ivor, who was also a Soviet spy and Ping-Pong mastermind. Griffins book recounts how that turned out to be pretty important. Montagus Jewish, Communist, Aristocratic, Intelligentsia credentials made him welcome in 1930s Russia, where Stalin was okay with ping pong as an excuse to cultivate a spy. WWII saw ping pong balls hoarded by the RAF as flotation aids, and sent out by the Red Cross in POW care packages. But the real excitement came from China, where Mao embraced ping pong as the sport in which the Chinese could cultivate a team to beat the hated Japanese and seize world renown. While the team lived in comparative luxury during the Great Leap Forwards famine, the Cultural Revolution nearly destroyed it (and drove most of the world-class players to their deaths). But, facing the Sino-Soviet split in 1970, Zhou Enlai saw the potential of dredging up the team from their re-education farm and sending them to Tokyo to befriend the American team, ending with a bizarre visit of perpetually stoned young hippies to Beijing in the glare of world press coverage. Under this newly established cover, some contact was made with Kissinger...and pretty soon Nixon was standing in front of the Great Wall.
Ping Pong Diplomacy 1972
From the establishment of communist China in , successive American governments had recognised the nationalist government in Taiwan as being the legitimate government of China. In so doing they blocked the communist mainland from any form of international participation for example in the Security Council of the UN. Under Nixon, tentative signals were sent out and the first example was a series of table tennis matches, hence ping pong diplomacy. This eventually led to communist China being fully integrated into the international community. What was important about Ping-Pong diplomacy? David P.
Thirty years ago: April The Cold War is entering its 26th year with no end in sight. In Vietnam, war still rages. On April 12, a Pan Am lands in Detroit, Michigan, carrying the People's Republic of China's world champion table tennis team for a series of matches and tours in ten cities around the United States. The era of Ping-Pong diplomacy had begun 12 months earlier when the American team—in Nagoya, Japan, for the World Table Tennis Championship—got a surprise invitation from their Chinese colleagues to visit the People's Republic.
Highlights from Bill's conversation with Nicholas Griffin. BL: Mr. Griffin I know I'm jumping into the middle of the story, but remind us of the impact of ping pong diplomacy almost 45 years ago. BL: To most people the term ping pong diplomacy calls up images of the U. Montagu's already writing letters saying, "why don't you pick ping pong as your national sport? I presume it's because they felt very comfortable knowing that they had a communist spy in charge of an international sporting body. But there was also this need for the Chinese to win at something and win at something quickly as a way to show that new China was getting onto its feet.
The three-day table tennis tournament, scheduled for Tuesday, June 10 through Thursday, June 12, will feature greats from both countries. Besides reminding people how this vital new relationship began, The Rematch will be further evidence of how healthy state-to-state relations should always be founded in thriving people-to-people relations. Michael D. Just as in and , the sport remains one of the most powerful unifiers between two great nations. The U.
Jacob Hafey. Consider how an 18 year-old ping-pong player from California accidentally getting in the wrong van would ultimately lead to the normalization of US-Chinese relations — the usage of the term has rarely been more apt. The fact that China even participated in the games was a miracle unto itself. After Mao began his Cultural Revolution in the mids, China had boycotted most international sporting events, decrying them as bourgeois. While the Chinese team was given explicit instructions not to have any communication with the Americans, a series of accidental interactions played a vital role in kickstarting ping-pong diplomacy.
The event has been seen as a key turning point in relations, and the policy approach has since been carried out elsewhere. The United States viewed the People's Republic of China as an aggressor nation and enforced an economic containment policy including an embargo on the PRC, following its entry into the Korean War in After approximately 20 years of neither diplomatic nor economic relations, both countries finally saw an advantage in opening up to each other: China viewed closer relations with the United States as a beneficial counter to its increasingly tense relationship with the Soviet Union, which had seen the outbreak of a series bloody border incidents, while the U. The U. From the early years of the People's Republic, sports had played an important role in diplomacy, often incorporating the slogan "Friendship First, Competition Second".