“NATIONS HAVE NO PERMANENT ENEMIES NOR PERMANENT FRIENDS. NATIONS HAVE ONLY INTERESTS,” IS A FAMOUS SAYING BY A WESTERN STATESMAN.

NIXON AND KISSINGER’S OUTREACH TO CHINA WAS MEANT TO CONTAIN A POWERFUL AND MENACING RUSSIA.

IT SUCCEEDED!

IT PAVED THE WAY FOR THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL AND OF THE IRON CURTAIN AND EVENTUAL USSR’S IMPLOSION.

Photos: 40th anniversary of pingpong diplomacy – latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-ping-pong-diplomacy9-pictures,0,1927495.photogallery

 Pingpong diplomacy: When ‘the little ball moved the big ball’ – latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-ping-pong-diplomacy-20110709,0,2306489.story

On Friday the Richard Nixon Foundation commemorated the 40th anniversary of what became known as pingpong diplomacy — though the more formal name of the sport is table tennis. The day’s program featured two rematches between the Chinese and American players who initiated Sino-American relations using their paddles and feather-weight balls. A packed morning at the Nixon Library included everything from speeches to Chinese drum girl performances to high-level table tennis matches. Players signed autographs and one travel-study group from Beijing filled a third of the stands.

“It is the pingpong that got the two countries together,” said Qiu Shaofang, China’s consul general in Los Angeles. “It is a long story.”

…..What happens next is unclear. But officials from both teams expressed interest in a visit, and an invitation and acceptance came quickly. On April 10, nine players plus officials, spouses and journalists crossed a bridge from Hong Kong to China. The group spent a week playing table tennis and sightseeing.

The visit paved the way for Henry Kissinger to conduct a secret visit to China in July, which set up Nixon’s historic visit in February 1972. The U.S. then formally recognized that there was only one China and thereby set the Taiwan question aside to normalize relations.

Nixon called it “the week that changed the world,” but Wei Wang remembers the words of Chairman Mao. She was a child in the early 1970s and says she doesn’t recall much about the events. But the former U.S. Olympian and current Westside Table Tennis Center instructor does remember one thing clearly.

“The prime minister said, ‘The little ball moved the big ball’ — a pingpong ball moved the earth,’ ” she said. “That was the metaphor. China opened up from that — from table tennis.”

The notion that sport could open a country seems outlandish on its face, but pingpong diplomacy is just one of several examples of sport influencing politics. Sports historian Richard Crepeau said the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, and the Soviet Union’s rebuttal four years later in Los Angeles, served as strong national statements about foreign policy.

“Sport is so popular and so important around the world, using it can make a very direct and succinct point,” Crepeau said. “There is a conscious attempt by the American government to use sports in various aspects of foreign policy, and vice versa. … Sport and patriotism go together.”….

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