A simple gesture by a ping pong player is credited with opening the doors of China to the United States. Zhuang Zedong, the man behind that gesture, is dead at the age of 72, reports Fox News.
It all started in 1971 at the world championships in Japan when American ping pong player Glen Cowan accidentally boarded a bus carrying the Chinese team. Zuang responded not by kicking Cowan off the bus, but instead presenting a gift to him at a time when the two nation’s didn’t have formal diplomatic relations. The two were photographed together and the thawing of relations was underway.
Mao Zedong then invited the American team for a visit and President Nixon later visited China paving the way for formal relations between the two countries in 1979.
Zhuang had struggled with cancer since 2008.