Sporting premier wins over Japanese

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2007, 12:00am

While sport has been used to stir up national rivalries, it has also helped ease strained relations.

The famous ping-pong diplomacy between China and the United States in the 1970s heralded a thaw in Sino-US ties. The two nations have had a frosty relationship since Mao Zedong 's Communist Party came to power in 1949.

In 1971, the US table tennis team was invited to China and became the first Americans to set foot on the country in 22 years. The landmark sports exchange was followed a year later by a visit to Beijing by president Richard Nixon.

Premier Wen Jiabao also incorporated sports as part of his charm offensive during a recent visit to Japan.

Wearing a cap and uniform, the premier (right) was seen playing baseball with Japanese college students.

Being the first Chinese premier to visit Japan in seven years, Mr Wen won over the Japanese with his superb baseball skills.


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