Chinese Diplomat Invokes Ping-Pong Diplomacy for Better Ties

China’s ambassador to the U.S. called for the two countries to take history as a guide to solve today’s disputes, in an apparent attempt to cool rising tensions between both nations.

The two sides should carry forward the spirit of Ping-Pong diplomacy and seek common ground, Ambassador Cui Tiankai said in a recorded speech on Saturday. He was speaking at an event commemorating a series of table-tennis matches held between China and U.S. that paved the way for President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to Beijing.

“50 years ago, the differences between us were far greater than they are today,” Cui said at the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of China-U.S. Ping Pong Diplomacy. “But the two sides, bearing in mind the fundamental well-being and common aspirations of the people, showed respect for their differences.”

Ties between the U.S. and China deteriorated to the worst in decades under former President Donald Trump. While China has expressed optimism that relations would improve under the Biden administration, tensions between the superpowers remain over issues ranging from trade, to human rights and geopolitics.

Cui praised the diplomacy of an older generation of leaders, which he said “moves the big ball with the little ball,” and called on both sides to strengthen collaboration on matters such as Covid-19 responses and climate change.

“In the face of varied global challenges, China and the U.S. can and should cooperate in more rather than fewer areas,” Cui said.

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