Can the United States and China move towards peace through ping-pong again?

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Players from the two countries will participate in the World Table Tennis Mixed Doubles tournament to be held in Houston this week, marking a milestone in the history of sports and diplomacy.

Fifty years ago, Chinese leader Mao Zedong invited the American table tennis team to visit China. A few months later, before Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made a groundbreaking secret visit to China, the subsequent series of friendly matches helped break the deadlock-which led to President Richard Nixon’s reclusive visit to China. The giant opened his heart and finally pushed it to the path it is today. The status of a superpower has risen.

If a new breakthrough of goodwill is needed, it is now. Since China’s reopening, US-China relations have been at their lowest ebb, with issues surrounding Taiwan, human rights, the oppression of Uyghur Muslims, and Beijing’s military build-up.

The Pentagon was recently shocked by Beijing’s testing of hypersonic weapons. Almost every major strategic decision in Washington was viewed through confrontation with Chinese architecture. Although Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in hopes of easing tensions, he is now facing political pressure for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

A few rubber paddles and some bouncing plastic balls need to be repaired a lot. But ping-pong has also been useful before.

Two pairs will try to bridge the geopolitical differences in Texas: Lin Gaoyuan of China will partner with Zhang Lili of the United States, and Kanak Jia of the United States will partner with China’s Wang Manyu.

Liu Guoliang, chairman of the World Table Tennis Council, described the match held in Houston as not only an opportunity to repair relations across the Pacific, but also a victory over the epidemic.

“These athletes are friends, and they can work together in the game to let the fans of the two countries cheer for them and open a new chapter in ping-pong diplomacy in the new era,” Liu said.

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