U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte
is in Beijing for activities commemorating the 30th anniversary of the current
Sino-American diplomatic relationship. The highlight Wednesday was a ping pong
match, which evoked history, but also looked toward the future.
pong tournament between China and the United States in 1971 cracked open the
door between the two estranged nations. This marked the beginning of what the
world would come to know as "ping pong diplomacy."
Washington and Beijing
eventually normalized ties in 1979. Tuesday, the two sides are celebrating the
30th anniversary of what many people see as one of the world's most important
To commemorate the historic sporting event that
started it all, Chinese and American athletes took part in a ping pong
exhibition match in Beijing.
The guests of honor were U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State John Negroponte and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang
Guangya. Negroponte replaced Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who remained
in the United States because of the Mideast crisis.
Hoarfrost was one of the original competitors on the American side.
feel like I have a personal stake in what happens," she said.
She was 15
years old when she came to China to play ping pong the first time. She is now
She says she is impressed with the changes she sees in China
- both socially and in greatly improved Sino-American relations.
have happened without ping pong. We would have relations between our two
countries," she said. "We would have a nice new embassy built here this year.
All those would happen, I think without table tennis. But I feel like it makes
life more interesting when we let the things that we have in common, like
sports, bring us together in the political realm."
Hoarfrost took part in
Wednesday's exhibition, but the spotlight fell on the younger
Thirteen-year-old American youth ping pong champion Ariel Hsing
is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She started playing ping pong at the age
of seven and feels "extremely excited" to have been chosen to take part in the
commemorative ping pong match in China.
"China's extremely good at
table tennis. And, one day, I hope that America will be as good in table tennis
as China," she said.
Hsing practices up to four hours a day, six days a
week. But she says she thinks Chinese players are so good because they practice
Meanwhile, in a meeting earlier in the day, Deputy Secretary
of State Negroponte told Vice Foreign Minister Wang the United States looks
forward to the smooth development of relations with China in the
Negroponte is scheduled to meet with Chinese Vice President Xi
Jinping before leaving Beijing Thursday.