Today marks 30 years since a ping-pong tournament broke the ice between the U.S. and China, paving the way to diplomatic relations. The occasion was marked in Beijing with a rematch. From the Foreign Policy blog:
In April 1971, China invited the U.S. table-tennis team to visit in what Time magazine called “the ping heard round the world.” One of the Americans was then 15-year-old Judy Bochenski Hoarfrost, right, who returned today to play veteran Chinese player Qi Baoxiang, left. The 1971 visit launched an era of “Ping-Pong diplomacy,” and according to Time, “Probably never before in history has a sport been used so effectively as a tool of international diplomacy.” Obviously, with the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it hasn’t been the only time China has used sports to try to improve its image.