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Monday, 19 March, 2001, 10:37 GMT
Kissinger recalls ping-pong diplomacy
Kissinger playing ping-pong with Vice-Premier Li
A grand reception was hosted to mark the anniversary
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger took up a table tennis bat with a leading Chinese official in Beijing on Monday, in a game to mark the 30th anniversary of a famous bout of diplomacy, that became known as ping-pong diplomacy.


This for me is a very moving occasion

Henry Kissinger
As Chinese officials arrived in the United States for talks with President George W Bush, Mr Kissinger got playing with Vice-Premier Li Lanqing.

In April 1971, amid Cold War tensions, an American table tennis team made a group-breaking visit to an isolated communist China.

The visit helped set off the gradual thaw in relations. Mr Kissinger - then an national security official - furthered the thaw by making a secret visit to Beijing a few months later.

Henry Kissinger
Kissinger visited China after the ping-pong episode in 1971
The following year, President Richard Nixon made his historic state visit to China and met with Chairman Mao Zedong, paving the way for formal US recognition of Beijing in 1979.

"This for me is a very moving occasion," Mr Kissinger - who has regularly visited China - was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

Mr Kissinger has had meetings with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and Vice-Premier Qian Qichen during his week-long visit.

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26 Oct 00 | Americas
Kissinger suffers heart attack
10 Jan 99 | Americas
Kissinger played China overtures
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