This is the complete and official Xinhua News Agency propaganda series of the 1971 Asian-African Ping Pong Friendship Tournament
). 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