Mutual visits of Chinese, US universities’ Ping Pong teams inject new strength into people-to-people exchanges: FM

The mutual visits of the table tennis teams from Chinese and the US' universities continued the friendly chapter of Ping-Pong Diplomacy and injected new strength into the two countries' people-to-people exchanges, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday when asked to comment on the Peking University students' visit to the US in December 2023, followed by a trip by students from the University of Virginia to China.

53 years ago, young table tennis players from China and the US raised the curtain for the normalization of bilateral relations in Beijing, enabling "the little ball to move the big ball," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning at the Tuesday press conference.

"The more frequent exchanges the two countries' people have, the stronger the public support for developing bilateral relations, the broader the space, and the stronger the driving force there will be," Mao added.

From December 12 to 23, the Peking University table tennis team made up of 15 students and teachers was invited to visit the US to for the US Table Tennis Open in Los Angeles. They also participated in a series of events commemorating the 52nd anniversary of China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy in Washington, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, with close interactions between the young Americans and local residents.

"As the backbone of future society, young people from China and the US should step out of their countries and experience the lifestyle and culture of other countries. Ping Pong, as a medium of communication, has truly brought us closer," Wu Bohan, a student from the Peking University table tennis team told the Global Times.

"What impressed me the most is the huge interest and enthusiasm the American students showed during our visit to the US this time," Zhang Yuwen, a member of the Peking University table tennis team and student from the School of International Studies, told the Global Times. "Every time the Americans saw the name 'China' marked on our jerseys, they would come to ask where in China we come from; which games we play, and even wished us good luck in our games."

In return, 18 table tennis team members from the University of Virginia were invited to visit China, coinciding with the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the US. They stayed in Beijing from January 4 to January 8 and participated in the youth table tennis exchange at Tsinghua University.

During their nine-day trip to China from Hong Kong, Beijing to Shanghai the students learnt about the history of Ping-Pong Diplomacy and cultural differences between the two countries.

Mao noted that China is willing to work with the US to implement the important consensus on promoting cultural exchanges reached at the China-US summit in San Francisco, to promote the spirit of "Ping-Pong Diplomacy," and to continue new chapters of friendship between the Chinese and American people.

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