China, U.S. team up at worlds on 50th anniversary of ‘ping-pong diplomacy’

China and the United States will team up for the mixed doubles event at the World Table Tennis Championships finals this month on the 50th anniversary of “ping-pong diplomacy.”

FILE PHOTO: Lily Zhang will be one of the participants in the mixed doubles events of the World Table Tennis Championships finals.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

China and the United States will team up for the mixed doubles event at the World Table Tennis Championships finals this month on the 50th anniversary of “ping-pong diplomacy,” the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) said on Monday.

“Ping-pong diplomacy” was triggered by a meeting between a Chinese and an American player at the 1971 world championships and helped mend relations between the two countries. The meeting resulted in an American table tennis team being invited to China to play what the Chinese know as “ping-pong,” ultimately paving the way for U.S. President Richard Nixon’s trip to the country in 1972.

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China’s Lin Gaoyuan and Wang Manyu will partner Americans Lily Zhang and Kanak Jha, respectively, at the November 23-29 event in Houston, the ITTF said in a statement.

“I’m really happy to be partnering with Lily Zhang for the mixed doubles event,” Lin said. “She’s the top table tennis player in the U.S. I’m not China’s top player yet, but our goal is to come out on top for this event.

“The biggest advantage about pairing with her is that she speaks Mandarin. I hope we can get into the groove soon, develop good chemistry and work hard towards a great performance.”

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