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Interest in sports helps relations(2)

2013-05-28 08:35 China Daily     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment

A classic precedent

After about 40 years, the groundbreaking Sino-US ping-pong diplomacy remains a classic use of sports in strengthening mutual relations.

"There's nothing better than ping-pong diplomacy to demonstrate sports' great role in international affairs," said sports sociologist Lu Yuanzhen.

"Sports' ability to transcend cultural differences and bring people together has been used successfully by many other countries around the world."

After a game at the Japan World Championships, Chinese table tennis player Zhuang Zedong gave a present to US player Glenn Cowan, who had inadvertently rode on the Chinese team's bus in April 1971, when China and the US were still Cold War rivals. Later, the US squad was invited to visit China for a friendly tour, which paved the way for a visit by then-US president Richard Nixon in 1972 and the eventual establishment of the two countries' diplomatic ties in 1979.

China's focus on winning medals had started to tarnish its image. "We focus too much on winning medals now while neglecting the importance of sport's role in making friends around the world," Liu said.

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