Ping-pong diplomat – Zhuang Zedong's chance meeting with a U.S. player was instrumental in Beijing's decision to invite the American table tennis team for an exhibition match in 1971. He is pictured here in 2008, looking at a Time magazine cover from 1972.
Training partners – An American tennis table player, right, trains with a Chinese competitor in April 1971 in Beijing. The exhibition match helped thaw frosty Cold War relations between the U.S. and China.
Sporting potential – The U.S. table tennis players visit the Great Wall of China during their visit. Their trip showed the potential of sport to overcome political differences.
Groundwork – The exhibition match laid the groundwork for the visit of U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1972 and ultimately led to the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979.
Anniversary – A commemorative table tennis match was part of celebrations marking 30 years of U.S. and China diplomatic ties in 2009.