Ping-pong Diplomacy, part 2

Updated: 2013-01-16 07:29

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

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Ping-pong Diplomacy, part 2

Table tennis has helped connect China and the United States since 1971, when the US team's visit to Beijing sparked a thaw in relations.

The sport is poised to play a similar role again, as Dubai announced on Monday it will sponsor the Chinese national team as part of an effort to promote exchange and growth between the two nations.

"This will be the first time the Chinese national table tennis team has cooperated with a foreign partner," said Liu Fengyan, the vice-chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association. "Chinese table tennis will again play a crucial part in China's association with other countries, and will again become a friendship ambassador in other parts of the world.

"The cooperation with Dubai will undoubtedly give a great boost to the connection between China and East Asia."

Mattar Mohammed al Tayer, the vice-chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, said China's world-class players and achievements in the sport will serve as an inspiration, and the partnership will raise the level of competition in the United Arab Emirates.

"Table tennis in China is a game that represents culture and heritage," he said. "We know the Chinese love this game, and there is an audience of more than 100 million watching.

"For Dubai, first of all, it helps develop the national team, because when they play against the top champions, their skills and game will improve."

The UAE has about 400 players in the national program, and 19 teams in its table tennis league.

"We have many competitions in Dubai, and in 2010 we hosted the World Cup," Al Tayer said.

"I know it's not as popular as it is in China, but that's why we're bringing in the Chinese. They are the champions, and we can exchange ideas and learn from them."

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