Garry Richardson casts a wry eye back to an unusual sporting exchange which marked the beginning of the end of Chinese isolation. In 1971, a team of table tennis players became the first group of Americans allowed into China for 22 years. They were pawns in a larger political game, used by both Chairman Mao and President Nixon to prepare the public for a massive foreign policy U-turn which ushered in a new era of diplomacy between the two countries. On their return the US immediately ended the 22-year trade embargo with China.
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