Zhuang Zedong, the Chinese ping pong champion, has just died. He sought out and met his American counterpart, Glenn Cowan during a visit to America in 1971. Zedong was an important private diplomat for Mao’s China, and after this meeting the U.S. Team, including Cowan, was invited to compete in China. This was unprecedented as there had been no diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China since Mao took over in 1949. And of course the Korean War severely exacerbated the already tense relations between the two superpowers.
The U.S. lost the Beijing matches but the seed was sewn. A year later, Nixon went to China, and slowly the rapprochement began. Philip Glass even wrote an opera about it. Read More →