If you follow China-U.S. relations, you’ve probably heard of “ping-pong diplomacy” – referring to the historic trip by an American table tennis team to China in April 1971. That set the stage for an official visit by Henry Kissinger in July 1971, and eventually full diplomatic normalization between the U.S. and the PRC.
Today, amid efforts by the Chinese and U.S. governments to ease tensions, “ping-pong diplomacy” is making a comeback.
In December, a group of students from Peking University participated in the USATT Table Tennis Open Championships. A month later, 12 students from the University of Virginia headed to China to learn more about the country, interact with Chinese college students – and of course, play some ping-pong.
Stephen Mull, the vice provost for global affairs at the University of Virginia, organized and led the delegation. He joins The Diplomat’s Shannon Tiezzi to discuss the trip and the prospect for people-to-people exchanges.