News Decoder
How ping-pong transformed U.S.-China relations

How ping-pong transformed U.S.-China relations

News Decoder’s correspondents have covered many of the biggest international stories of the past half-century, offering our students an unparalleled historical perspective on complex global events. Jonathan Sharp has tapped his rich professional adventures time and again for News Decoder, producing yarns about covering the Vietnam War and showing U.S. actress Shirley MacLaine around Beijing. In his latest article, Sharp recounts witnessing a pivotal moment in China-U.S. relations in 1971, when a team of U.S. ping-pong players visited China, paving the way to a thaw in relations between the two nations. Sharp skillfully mixes personal anecdotes with an impartial look at history to transport students born more than a generation after the “transformative moment” back in time. Exercise: Ask each of your students to speak to at least one parent to identify a moment in their youth when they witnessed an important event. After interviewing the parent, the student should write an article mixing the parent’s viewpoint in the first person with third-person background and explanation.

Ping-pong players paved the way for a thaw in relations between China and the U.S. in the early 1970s. I witnessed this pivotal moment in history. Flanked by Chinese border officials, Glen Cowan, a member of the U.S. ping-pong team, waves to newsmen at Lowu, China,...
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