Los Angeles—Ping Pong Diplomacy has been in full force at UCLA’s Collins Court since August 5, 2019 when the Chinese National Table Tennis Team arrived in Los Angeles as guests of USA Table Tennis (USATT) to begin a 20-day joint training session with the US National Table Tennis Team.
On Saturday, August 17th, the two teams held an open training and exhibition session for approximately 200 guests. In attendance at Saturday’s event were President Liu Guoliang of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, Ambassador Zhang Ping, the Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles, the Ambassador’s wife, Madam Zhang, USATT CEO, Virginia Sung, Mike Deluca, Assistant Vice Chancellor of UCLA Campus Life, and UCLA’s Director of Recreation, Erinn McMahan.
Ambassador Zhang thanked UCLA and USATT for hosting CNTTT and also pointed to an additional moment of Ping Pong Diplomacy when two cross-town collegiate rivals, the USC and UCLA table tennis teams, demonstrated an unprecedented willingness to play together in mixed doubles against members of the China and US National Teams. While the UCLA/USC teams lost to players of the two national teams, all the USC and UCLA players commented that it was a great thrill to play against some of the best players in the world. Assistant Chancellor McMahan commented it was a great honor and privilege for UCLA to hold the training camp on campus and looks forward to the CNTTT to come back next year.
To assist in the immense preparation, coordination, and implementation of bringing the Chinese team’s 31 players, their coach, Liu Guoliang, and 26 additional coaches and staff to Los Angeles for their three week training camp, USATT turned to Global Creative Cities Coalition (GC3), a Southern California-based company committed to promoting reciprocal cultural exchanges with US partners around the globe. GC3’s Senior Advisor, Mitch Huberman suggested inviting the USC Table Tennis team to the UCLA campus to help demonstrate how Ping Pong can aid traditional adversaries to seek common ground. USATT CEO Virginia Sung embraced the idea which was supported by President Liu. GC3 is also assisting USATT with other events and activities during the team’s stay in Southern California, including a celebration of Ping Pong Diplomacy at the Nixon Library, GC3 co-founders Monique Luo and Barry Sedlik are working to expand Ping Pong playing as a community activity for health, fitness, socialization and as a tool for cross cultural education. They and their team are working in conjunction with the LA Open Table Tennis Association and the City of Long Beach to present the 2019 International Ping Pong Fit Festival, which is being held concurrently with the 9th Annual LA Open Table Tennis Tournament Championship at the Long Beach Convention Center on August 31 and September 1. That event includes an unprecedented array of China Masters displaying and discussing their centuries old crafts as foundational elements of Chinese heritage. As a consequence of GC3’s efforts, Ambassador Zhang will present Mayor Robert Garcia with a gift declaring Long Beach as America’s First Ping Pong Friendly City.
This landmark pairing between the American and Chinese Teams–training together in preparation for the upcoming World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2020–evokes the historic bond the teams experienced during the 1971 World Table Tennis Championships in Japan that resulted in the American Table Tennis Team accepting an invitation to China, which led to the historic meeting between Chairman Mao Zedong and President Richard Nixon’s in 1972. Normalization of relations between the two countries was achieved in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter and Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping established full diplomatic relations between the two countries.
ABOUT GLOBAL CREATIVE CITIES COALITION
Global Creative Cities Coalition (GC3) is a Southern California based company with the mission of helping cities build a unique cultural heritage, embracing health and inclusion. GC3 is committed to organizing and promoting reciprocal cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional, and technical exchanges and projects with US partners around the globe. (Contents By GC3 )