Created 9-Jul-08
Modified 24-Jul-08
31 photos
This is the complete and official Xinhua News Agency propaganda series of the 1971 Asian-African Ping Pong Friendship Tournament (1971 年在北京举行的亚非乒乓球友好邀请赛). This tournament was the first in a series of such events which came to be regarded and labeled as Ping Pong Politics (see the Wikipedia entry on this term for more). Three more invitationals were held in 1975, 1976, and 1980. The 1971 event was held from October 2-14. It was one of the largest - if not the largest - international sports event held in China up to that point in time.

As a matter of historical record, six months earlier, on April 10, 1971, the American Table Tennis Team had arrived in China at the invitation of the Chinese Table tennis Association - it is said that Chairman Mao himself granted the invitation to players of a country which not only had no diplomatic relations with the PRC, but which furthermore was still decried as the foreign enemy no.1. The visit by the American table tennis team (and Kissinger's secret missions in the same year) laid the groundwork for Nixon's visit to China in February 1972, and to the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the PRC and America very shortly thereafter.

Furthermore, and perhaps rather surprisingly, as China was still engulfed and mired by the Cultural Revolution, the PRC became a full member of the United Nations in October 1971, and occupied a seat at the UN Security Council from November of that same year onward.

The series on display here portraits various players from Asian and African nations, such as Pakistan, Marocco, Egypt, etc. Note the slogans, symbols, and the masses along the path of the visitors throughout the city.

Thomas H. Hahn, Ithaca, NY
Beiing's municipal sports arena - 1971年首都体育馆外景The youth of China greeting the foreign friends - 热烈欢迎亚非朋友!The opening ceremony on October 2, 1971 - 这是开幕式会场Chinese and Korean athletes - 中朝两国关运动员一起入场Three players from nations involved in the the anti-American front 反美斗争战线: Cambodia, Vietnam & LaosThe Anti-American 反美战线 Vietnamese players chatting with Chinese athlete friendsInside Beiing's municipal sports arena - 1971年首都体育馆内景A Chinese player (刁文元) embraces his Pakistani counterpart, to whom he had just lost the matchAthletes honoring and acknowledging the audience after the day's competitive matchesAthletes from Nepal warmly shaking hands with players and coaches after the matchA huge welcome party for the foreign friends in the Yiheyuan 颐和园Wang Meng 王猛, chairman of the tournament organization committee, with athletes from all nationsPlaying with children in the YiheyuanExhibition match between a Maroccon and a Chinese athleteAthletes from Africa dancing with Chinese school children in a kindergartenAnother exhibition match in the YiheyuanJapanese and athletes from other nations singing songs of friendship togetherA member of the team from Dahomey chatting with Chinese athletes - "我们为友谊而来"Members of the team from Zambia teaming up with Little Red Soldiers 红小兵A member of the team from  Equatorial Guinea visiting a textile factory in Beijing