Ping Pong Diplomacy: 48th Anniversary

Representatives from the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute were honored to be invited to speak at the celebration of the anniversary of ping-pong diplomacy in Haimen, Jiangsu Province. The invitation came from old friends whom we first met Los Angeles — Yang Jiechi, and his associate Cai Chenghua — where we co-sponsored the “Building Peace” events.

Xiaofang Zhou and Michael North came to Haimen (about two hours from Shanghai) for several days of meetings, dinners and discussions, and met many of the dignitaries present. Michael North gave an extended talk on the impact of ping-pong diplomacy in 1971, and its lessons for today and the future, addressing his remarks to the hundreds of high school students present.

Below is the account and photos of the meetings from the sponsors in Haimen, supplemented by video produced by the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute, with an added section on the culture of Haimen City.

On May 11, 2019, the 48th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy was hosted by the China-US Folk Table Tennis Diplomacy Association. The events were organized by Jiangsu Xinle Public Welfare Foundation and Xinle Group, and were held in the Haimen Middle School Gymnasium in Haimen City.

Invited by the Chairman of the Table Tennis Diplomacy Association, Chairman of the Board of Xinle Group, Yuan Zhaohui, and the Secretary-General of the Folk Table Tennis Diplomacy Association, Yang Jiechi, hosted guests at the event — including:

Secretary of the Bureau of Discipline Inspection of the National School of Administration, China Research Institute of United Front Theory Vice President Yang Wenming; former vice president of Xinhua News Agency, Long Xinnan; former Vice Minister of Agriculture Peng Zhaodu; Vice Chairman of the 11th CPPCC Jiangsu Province, Luo Yimin; the grand niece of Zhou Enlai and co-founder of the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute, Ms. Zhou Xiaofang, and Michael North, American expert and co-founder of the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute; former president of Shanghai Institute of International Studies, Yang Jiechi; former vice president of China Postal Savings Bank Li Cailin; former deputy director of the Central Military Commission Security Bureau Li Min; China Guanghua Technology Foundation Party Secretary and Chairman Hou Baosen; Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of Jiangsu Province, and Director of the Provincial Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Wang Hua; Deputy Director of Jiangsu Provincial Sports Bureau Xiong Wei; Chinese and American Ping Pong Diplomacy players, former National Table Tennis Team Players, World Champion Zheng Huaiying; Original member of the National Ping Pong Team and world champion Yu Zeze; former head coach of the national table tennis team, deputy head of the China Table Tennis Association Lu Yuansheng; vice chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, Li Bing; chairman of the CPPCC Nantong City, Huang Wei Dong; director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office Nantong Sun Baojun; Haimen Mayor Guo Xiaomin China, as well as US sports personalities, experts and scholars. More than 800 people from Haimen Middle School attended the commemoration.

Watching the forty-eighth anniversary documentary of China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy

48 years ago, the table tennis teams of China and the United States effectively visualized the normalization of relations between the two countries through an exchange of visits. They promoted various humanitarian exchanges and cooperation including sports exchanges — using the small ball to open the large ball.

The extraordinary development of China-US relations over the past half century has profoundly changed the structure of the world economy and brought benefits to the people of China, the United States and the world. “Ping Pong Diplomacy” is a positive story, and captures a beautiful and indelible moment in the hearts of the Chinese and American people.

At the event site, representatives from all walks of life gathered together to relive history and look to the future, and to analyze and discuss current hot issues. The former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States and the Secretary-General of the Boao Forum for Asia, Mr. Zhou Wenzhong, congratulated the event with a video message.


Guo Xiaomin, mayor of Haimen City, noted that the 48th anniversary of the Chinese and American folk table tennis diplomacy was held in Jinghai. This affirms and encourages Haimen’s economic and social development. At the same time, all levels of leaders are welcome to come to Haimen to enjoy the river, experience the social vitality of Haimen and see the urban character of Haimen.

Haimen City actively participated in and hosted the commemorative event, to cause sportsmanship and the concept of national fitness to take root in Haimen, and to let more people know and understand Haimen. The city is seizing this opportunity, increasing its confidence, and moving in a new direction of high-quality development, contributing to the peaceful development of the world and to the realization of the “Chinese Dream”.

Yuan Zhaohui, chairman of the China-US Folk Table Tennis Diplomacy Association and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Xinle Group, said that since its establishment in 2014, the China-US Folk Table Tennis Diplomacy Association has been committed to building a bridge between Chinese and American non-governmental organizations, and has organized many activities. The organization strives to make strong contributions to the healthy development of China-US relations, and to add new and positive dimensions to the friendship between China and the United States, and their two peoples.

In the future, Xinle Group will continue to contribute to the development of people’s diplomacy, and to the local development of Haimen. “We will continue to use the ‘small ball’ to turn the ‘big ball,’ and promote it with friends from all walks of life in China and the United States,” he said. Non-governmental diplomacy continues to expand, and to create prosperity for the two peoples.

Ms. Zhou Xiaofang, the grand niece of Zhou Enlai, and Michael North, as a representative of the United States, shared moving stories and deep feelings of participation in exchanges between the Chinese and American people over the years with everyone present. They are the co-founders of the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute, and demonstrated their deep respect for the merits of Premier Zhou Enlai’s diplomatic history in New China. And on behalf of the American people, they expressed their warmth to all friends from China.

In his speech, Yang Wenming, the former secretary of the National Academy of Administration and the vice president of the China United Front Theory Research Association, stressed that in the past 48 years, that Chinese and American people have often used “ping-pong diplomacy” as a model of adherence to the spirit of equality, mutual trust, cooperation and mutual benefit. He has directed friendly exchanges in many fields, including humanities, economy, trade, science and technology, and helped to write a chapter about harmonious coexistence among the major powers. He has made an important contribution to promoting world peace and stability and building a community of human destiny.

The commemoration of ping-pong diplomacy in the current world situation helps us to look back on the extraordinary strategic vision and superb diplomatic art of the previous generation, to apply their wisdom to again to solve new problems encountered in China-US. exchanges. Cooperation from all walks of life can take place, to establish and maintain bilateral relations of mutual benefit and win-win development.

Secretary Yang hopes that this commemoration will be another opportunity to build China-US relations. It will build a bridge between the two peoples representing friendship, cooperation and wisdom. This event also promotes the city of Haimen and the Nantong region.

Speech on China-US Relations

Yang Jiechi, a well-known American expert and former president of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, gave a keynote speech on China-US relations and answered questions from students on the spot. Dean Yang encouraged the students to study hard, broaden their international horizons and serve their nation.

Table tennis exhibition

Zheng Huaiying, the world table tennis champion, and Lu Yuansheng, former head coach of the National Table Tennis Team and vice chairman of the China Table Tennis Association, played a ping pong demonstration match, along with athletes from Haimen City, to warm applause from the audience. And so the whole event came to completion.

Over the past 25 years, Xinle Group has been adhering to the corporate tenet of “prospering in industry, enriching the people, serving the country, and doing good in the world.” On the world stage, Xinle Group has a sense of love and social responsibility. The message: to be proactive in building a bridge between China and the United States, inheriting the spirit of history, and contributing to the development of both nations and their societies.

Taking a group photo

the people, the nation — the nation, the world


People around the world were fascinated in 1971, when one of the deepest diplomatic silences in the world — between China and America — was broken in a single unexpected event.

In an act of vision and courage, Premier Zhou Enlai invited America’s ping-pong team, then traveling in Japan, to a demonstration tournament in Beijing. In the following days, the images of young athletes from both countries, competing and talking in an atmosphere of friendship, helped to break a conceptual block in both countries.

Once that barrier was gone, the door was open to more substantial interactions, beginning the following year with the visit by President Nixon to Beijing, and its symbolic handshake with Zhou Enlai. Much serious work remained to be done — and the full fruits of that work were not seen until 1979, with the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations.

But it all began with a simple game of ping-pong.

The unedited newsreel accounts below, from Western media, give a sense of the temper of the times.

There is a fascinating historic museum in Haimen City, next to City Hall.

Jianghai Museum showcases art and artifacts, of both historic and current significance, that demonstrate the vibrant life of the people of the city and the whole Nantong region, “where rivers meet the ocean.” Here are some photographic and musical impressions of the Museum: