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China-US ties at new historical starting point
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By Dai Bingguo

More than 30 years ago, the great statesmen of China and the United States used the small ping-pong ball for a big undertaking: The resumption of contact between the two countries. The ship of China-US relations, moored for so long, again set sail, braving the wind and waves.

In 1971-1972, Chinese and US table tennis teams exchanged visits to each other, which is praised as "the ping-pong diplomacy" in the history of Sino-US relations. The visits opened up the door of friendly exchange between two countries. Picture is accorded a hearty welcome to the Chinese table tennis players at the General Headquarter of United Nations, playing a demonstration match on April 19, 1972. [File Photo]
Today, NBA player Yao Ming has become a star popular among the people of both countries. From the ping-pong ball to the basketball, it is not just a change in diameter. Rather, it reflects the enormous progress in depth and breadth of China-US relations over the short span of 30 years.

Again more than 30 years ago, before Dr Henry Kissinger's secret visit to China, it seemed to many people that our mutual estrangement would continue forever.

It is said that when a British journalist filed the news of Dr Kissinger's secret mission to China to his editor in London, the editor convinced himself that the journalist must be drunk. How could Kissinger go to China? He threw this news story into the wastepaper basket without a second thought. Dr. Kissinger's visit was followed by that of then president Richard M. Nixon.

Chairman Mao Zedong meets then US president Richard M. Nixon at Zhongnanhai in Beijing on Feb 21, 1972. [File Photo]

Later on, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping came to the United States. On Jan 1 1979, our two countries established formal diplomatic relations and ushered in a new era of exchange and cooperation.

In the short span of 30 years, with the joint efforts of several generations of Chinese leaders, seven US presidents and people in both countries, the ship of China-US relations has forged ahead, come rain or shine. It has brought tremendous benefits to our two peoples and contributed greatly to world peace and development.

Both the 1.3 billion Chinese and the 300 million Americans feel happy to see that our exchanges at the top and other levels are becoming more and more frequent. Years ago, our top leaders could hardly meet once in several years. Yet during President Gorge W. Bush's presidency, our top leaders have met several times a year.

There are now more than 60 dialogue and cooperation mechanisms between our two countries, in particular the Strategic Economic Dialogue and the Strategic Dialogue. These two mechanisms have provided an important platform for expanding and deepening dialogue and cooperation between us at the strategic level.

Our two countries have common views on more and more strategic issues. Exchanges and mutual understanding between our two countries in the past 30 years have reached breadth and depth never seen before. Our understanding of the changing world, of each other and of our relationship has deepened substantially.

Our strategic mutual trust has grown and we have become wiser and more rational in handling various issues. China and the United States shoulder important responsibilities for world peace and stability. We should live in amity, not enmity. We should engage in cooperation, not confrontation. This has increasingly become the shared view of people from various walks of life in both countries.

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