China calls for U.S. to remove barriers to cultural exchanges



Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankaion Saturday said that the United States should remove the barriers to cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries to jointly build foundations for friendship and cooperation.

Cui made the remarks in a video speech during a special event held in Shanghai to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ping-Pong Diplomacy between China and the U.S.

"The Ping-Pong Diplomacy of 50 years ago is of special significance in the history of China-U.S. relations," Cui said, pointing out that the significance of the event exceeded the scope of sports communication, shaping bilateral relations.

At the conclusion of the 31st World Championships in Nagoya, Japan, at the invitation of the Chinese table tennis team, the U.S. table tennis team arrived on April 10, 1971, to commence their visit to China, becoming the first U.S. group to visit since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The Chinese team paid a return visit the following year. The Ping-Pong Diplomacy broke the ice after two decades of estranged Sino-U.S. relations and eventually led to the normalization of bilateral ties.

Cui noted that table tennis, now one of the symbols of the China-U.S. friendship, has become increasingly popular in the U.S. Meanwhile, he added, Chinese and U.S. citizens have been communicating and cooperating in the fields of sports, education, technology and culture.

Chinese table tennis player Yang Ruihua (L) shakes hands with U.S. Dick Miles prior to a friendly match in Shanghai, E China, April 15, 1971. /Xinhua

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However, certain people from the U.S. side have been restricting cultural and people-to-people exchanges out of ideological biases and zero-sum game mindset, Cui said.

He called for the resumption of the normal communication and cooperation between the two countries' peoples as soon as possible, and encouraged more people to promote friendly China-U.S. relations.

The commemorative activity was staged at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Museum in Shanghai.

Sheri Cioroslan, former president of USA Table Tennis, shared her story via video of learning about Ping-Pong Diplomacy at a young age and her efforts in carrying on the legacy of the Diplomacy.

"There are so many memories to cherish and so many more to make," she said.

Sha Hailin, chairman of the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, gifted eight Chinese witnesses Ping-Pong Diplomacy souvenir medals and ping-pong paddles. The souvenirs for American witnesses were received by James Heller, the U.S. Consul General in Shanghai.

Guests were shown around the China-U.S. Ping-Pong Diplomacy 50th Anniversary Exhibition at the museum, featuring photos, collections and videos.

After the ceremony, four teams took part in a China-U.S. ping-pong friendly match including players from China Table Tennis College, the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai, American companies and commercial associations in Shanghai.

Xu Yinsheng, ITTF honorary president, announced the opening of the match. ITTF vice president Shi Zhihao and Jeffrey Lehman, vice-chancellor of Shanghai New York University, hit the first shot.

The event was organized by the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Shanghai Sports Federation, Shanghai University of Sport and Shanghai Institute of American Studies.

(With input from Xinhua)

(Cover: Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai speaks during a joint interview with Chinese media in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S., March 17, 2021. /Xinhua)