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Descriere: (210426) -- BEIJING, April 26, 2021 (Xinhua) -- Combination photo shows players of China and the United States competing in a table tennis friendly match in Beijing, capital of China, April 13, 1971 (up), and players of China and the United States competing in a friendly match to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Ping-Pong Diplomacy between the two countries at the International Table Tennis Federation Museum in Shanghai, east China, April 10, 2021. Fifty years ago, with an unexpected yet fortunate encounter, Chinese and American ping-pong players broke through deeply entrenched ideological barriers and started a world-reshaping process that eventually re-coupled their countries after 20 years of mutual hostility and isolation.\r\n On April 4 of 1971, after finishing his training session during the 31st World Championships in Nagoya, Japan, Cowan found himself aboard a bus with the Chinese team members on his way to the venue, a complicated scene in a period featuring a Cold War gulf between the two countries.\r\n Cowan's brief communication with the Chinese team on board became a trigger that the U.S. table tennis team got an invitation to China. \r\n At the invitation of the Chinese delegation, a flight with the U.S. table tennis team on board landed at the Beijing airport on April 10, 1971. They became the first U.S. group to visit since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The U.S. team played exhibition games with Chinese counterparts in Beijing and Shanghai.\r\n The Chinese team paid a return visit the next year. The mutual visits broke the ice in two decades of estranged Sino-U.S. relations and eventually led to the normalization of bilateral ties. (Xinhua)