US-China ‘Ping-Pong Diplomacy’ journey continues

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The ‘Ping-Pong Diplomacy’ between US and China started half a century ago.

Around 50 years ago, China invited the US table tennis team to the country after the conclusion of the 31st World Championships in Nagoya, Japan.

When the US players landed in Beijing on April 10, 1971, they became the first group from America to visit China since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Chinese team visited America the next year.

In an indication that the new generation of players are also keen to continue the tradition, the national players from both countries conducted a joint training session in Houston Monday.

Houston is hosting the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships.

Two pairs of both Chinese and American players conducted a joint training session.

China’s Lin Gaoyuan and America’s Lily Zhang were at one end while US player Kanak Jha and China’s Wang Manyu played from the other end.

The players seemed to have exchanged ideas during training. The combinations were announced by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

Lin said he often discussed tactics with Zhang during training.

For Wang and Jha, the joint practice was also an opportunity to learn each other’s game in a better way.

“It is our first pairing. I have witnessed Jha’s strength during the training and look forward to the upcoming games,” Wang said.

Jha responded: “Our styles are a little bit different which maybe is good to pair together.”

“I think [Wang] has a very strong forehand and backhand flick, and I’m more safe and consistent. So I hope together we can bring out each other’s strengths,” he added.

The ITTF Sunday said singles fifth seed Lin will pair with Zhang, while Jha will play with fourth seed Wang.

“It’s really incredible feeling to be a part of huge moment in history,” said five-time U.S. national champion Zhang.

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