Zheng Minzhi, Witness to Ping-Pong Diplomacy, Recalls Historic Moment of Nixon’s China Visit


Editor’s note:

The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of President Nixon’s visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communique, the first joint communiqué issued by China and the United States, which set the guidelines for the development of bilateral relations. , especially the one-China principle. It has become the political foundation for the normalization of China-US relations and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Global Times interviewed five Shanghai-based Chinese witnesses recalling their role in Nixon’s visit five decades ago.

This is the story of Zheng Minzhi, a member of the Chinese table tennis delegation that visited the United States in 1972.

Photo by Zheng Minzhi: Global Times

On the occasion of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the visit of former US President Richard Nixon to China and the publication of the Shanghai communiqué, the famous table tennis player Zheng Minzhi, one of the members of the delegation Chinese table tennis player who visited the United States in 1972, recalled the historic trip to Shanghai.

Ms. Zheng said she truly realized that the 50 years of developing China-US relations were not easy.

She expressed her appreciation for the forward-looking strategy of the late Chairman Mao Zedong and the late Premier Zhou Enlai of using a small table tennis ball to open the doors of diplomacy.

After the Shanghai communiqué was released, “I visited the United States with the Chinese table tennis delegation,” Zheng recalls. At the White House, President Nixon met them saying they were the first to open the door to China-US friendship, Zheng noted, noting that the people and athletes of the two countries are the greatest. winners.

Zheng recalled the historical moments with enthusiasm. “President Nixon has said that the friendship between the Chinese and American peoples will certainly be beneficial for world peace,” she noted.

When visiting the United States in 1972, Zheng and all the team members received a warm and friendly welcome from the American people and American athletes. Zheng still remembers that there were many students welcoming them wherever they went.

Zheng also recalled his experience of talking with Connie Sweeris, one of the 1971 USA team members in China, and her husband, Dell Sweeris, in 2021 via video link during an interview with the Global Times.

“We all talked about how we felt the first time we came to the United States or they came to China,” Zheng said, adding that “they were received by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai with the highest distinction”.

Despite the decades that have passed, their friendship lives on. They talked about their children and asked if they liked to play table tennis. Sweeris said he still wants to do something for the China-US friendship with the US Table Tennis Association in the future, according to Zheng.

“Thinking about how difficult it was 50 years ago, we finally broke the ice. China and the United States have every reason to maintain good relations,” Zheng said.

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