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40th Anniversary Of ‘Ping Pong Diplomacy’ Held In OC

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China's Qi Baoxiang (L) and Judy Bochenski Hoarfrost of US during a commemorative table tennis match marking China's invitation to a U.S. table tennis team to visit in 1971, known as "ping-pong diplomacy". (Photo by Andy Wong-pool/Getty Images)

China’s Qi Baoxiang (L) and Judy Bochenski Hoarfrost of US during a commemorative table tennis match marking China’s invitation to a U.S. table tennis team to visit in 1971, known as “ping-pong diplomacy”. (Photo by Andy Wong-pool/Getty Images)

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ANAHEIM (CBS) — For some, the game of ping pong is merely a tabletop version of tennis — but for historians, the game marks a critical turning point in U.S.-China relations.

In 1971, Judy Hoarfrost and the U.S. national ping pong team made an historic trip to China, and 40 years later, she picked up the paddles one more time to mark the occasion.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports the friendly competition between American and Chinese players was commemorated on Friday at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.

The event marked the 40th anniversary of “ping pong diplomacy” — the reopening of relations between the US and China.

Even though she won three of four matches — victories she says were undeserved — Hoarfrost said the Chinese were much better players.

“Did we make it happen? I’d say, ‘no’,” said Hoarfrost. “If it wasn’t us it would have happened…four years later we would have relations with China.”

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