34 Years Ago in TIME

U.S.-China relations took a great leap forward in 1971, as PING-PONG DIPLOMACY helped bridge the gap between the two nations.

Dressed in an austere gray tunic, Premier Chou En-lai, 73, moved along a line of respectfully silent visitors in Peking's massive Great Hall of the People. Adhering to strict alphabetical order, he shook hands first with the Canadian table tennis team, then the Colombians, the English and the Nigerians. Finally he stopped to chat with the 15-member U.S. team and three accompanying American reporters, the first group of U.S. citizens and journalists to visit China in nearly a quarter of a...

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