Ambassador Cui Tiankai's Video Address at the Opening Ceremony of the Shanghai Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy

President Sha Hailin, Vice President Jiang Jiang,

Consul General James Heller,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

I’d like to begin by extending the warmest congratulations on the Shanghai commemoration of the 50th anniversary of China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy.

The Ping Pong Diplomacy of 50 years ago is of special significance in the history of China-US relations. It opened up a creative and unique way of communication between the two peoples, who had been separated for decades, and sent a signal to both countries and the world that China and the United States would improve their relations, thus ushering in a series of major events from President Nixon’s visit to China to the establishment of China-US diplomatic relations. Looking back, we must pay tribute to the elder generation of Chinese and American leaders for their extraordinary strategic foresight and high art of diplomacy, and express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who participated in this part of history.

People use the phrase “the little ball moves the big ball” to describe China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy. Indeed, this event went beyond sport exchanges and had a far-reaching impact on shaping the China-US relations and the world landscape, giving us profound insights.

First, China and the US can and must transcend their differences and find a way to win-win cooperation. Fifty years ago, the differences between us were far greater than they are today. But the two sides, bearing in mind the fundamental well-being and common aspirations of the people, showed respect for their differences, and started a process of cooperation. This has proved that two major nations with different social systems were fully capable of achieving peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. As President Nixon said during his 1972 visit to China, the US and China “can find common ground, despite our differences, to build a world structure in which both can be safe to develop in our own ways on our own roads.”

Today, the China-US relationship faces a critical choice as to its future path. The two sides should inherit and carry forward the spirit of Ping Pong Diplomacy featuring mutual respect and seeking common ground while reserving differences, follow the guidance of the phone call between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden, firmly stay in the right direction of the bilateral relations, objectively view each other’s strategic intentions, and make cooperation a common choice for China and the United States, so as to ensure the sustained and steady progress of our relations.

Second, China and the United States share the common responsibility of maintaining world peace, stability and prosperity. Ping Pong Diplomacy moved the big ball, and the normalization of China-US relations has not only affected our two countries, but profoundly changed the Asia-Pacific and even global strategic landscape, deepened globalization, and delivered enormous benefits to the people of both countries and the entire world. As President Xi pointed out when he spoke with President Biden, China and the US can accomplish many great things through cooperation for the benefit of both countries and the world, and confrontation between us would certainly be a disaster for both and the world.

At present, the pandemic and the great changes unseen in a century are intertwined, and traditional and non-traditional security threats have emerged one after another. In the face of varied global challenges, China and the United States can and should cooperate in more rather than less areas, and the fundamental force that moves the big ball is not weakened, but grows stronger. The two countries should strengthen coordination and collaboration on issues such as COVID-19 response, climate change and economic recovery, provide more public goods to the world, and make globalization more open, inclusive, balanced, and beneficial to all.

Third, people-to-people exchanges have always been an engine and lubricant of China-US relations. For a long time, the two countries have maintained frequent personnel exchanges and booming cooperation in sports, education, science and technology, culture and other fields. Table tennis has also seen growing popularity in the United States, becoming one of the symbols of China-US friendship. Regrettably, some on the US side, obsessed with ideological bias and zero-sum thinking, keep creating obstacles for our people-to-people exchanges. This is against the aspirations and common interests of the two peoples. We hope the US side will remove the stumbling stones as soon as possible, resume regular people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, encourage more people to get involved in the cause of China-US friendship, and work with the Chinese side to strengthen the foundation of friendship and cooperation between our two countries.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China as well as the first year in the implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan. This year, we will also embark on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country. The people’s aspiration for a better life has always been the goal of our unremitting work. To build a community with a shared future for mankind together with all peoples, including the American people, is our constant pursuit. China is willing and ready to work with the US side in the Ping Pong spirit of mutual respect, friendship and win-win, with a view to helping each other to achieve greater success through mutually beneficial cooperation and healthy competition.

It’s getting warmer in mid-spring with flowers blossoming everywhere. The cherry blossoms in Washington are in full bloom, and the white magnolias in Shanghai are also blooming. For many years, Shanghai has been at the forefront of sub-national and people-to-people interactions between China and the US. When the US table tennis team visited China 50 years ago, it played a friendly match in Shanghai with the Chinese team, quite some players of which were from the city. Shanghai also witnessed the issuance of the “Shanghai Communiqué”. I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues in Shanghai for their outstanding work in organizing this commemorative event. I hope that Shanghai will make even greater contributions to promoting people-to-people and sub-national exchanges between China and the United States and to enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

In closing, I wish the Shanghai commemoration for the 50th anniversary of China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy a complete success! Thank you for listening!

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