John Ohnesorge Discusses Role of "Pingpong Diplomacy" in China-U.S. Relations

Recently, John Ohnesorge spoke to the Journal Sentinel in an article about the role table tennis played in the easing of tensions between the U.S. and China in 1971.

Ohnesorge, who is Chairman of the Wisconsin China Initiative at UW-Madison as well as UW Law's Director of East Asian Legal Studies Center, explains that in 1971, America and China were enemies with a common foe--the Soviet Union. America was mired in the Vietnam War and worried that Communist China might throw its might behind the North Vietnamese like it did in Korea.

That year, in a reversal of years of limited communication, China invited the American table tennis team to Beijing for a friendly exhibition. The invitation, evidence of China's desire to end its isolation from the rest of the world, was dubbed by Time magazine "the ping heard around the world."

"Somebody had to make the first big public, symbolic move," says Ohnesorge. "Sometimes, you have these geopolitical forces you think should lead to some outcome and they don't and maybe it's because there's no spark like there was with pingpong diplomacy."

In July, a Chinese delegation will visit Milwaukee as part of the U.S. Table Tennis Open and Para Open to observe the 40th anniversary of the historic American-Chinese table tennis exhibition.

To read the original article, click here.

Submitted by UW Law News on July 7, 2011

This article appears in the categories: In the Media

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