The arrival of the United States Table Tennis Team was the first time a group of Americans had visited China since the communist rise to power in 1949 5. The team was treated extremely well in China, they were given tours of the Great Wall and the Qing Dynasty Summer Palace along with banquets and opera performances. The competition itself was rather uneventful, the Chinese were careful to not win matches by scores too lopsided in order to stay fair (at the time the United States was ranked 28th out of the 39 International Table Tennis Federation teams). 2 The trip had rave reviews in the States, but mixed feelings through out the rest of the world. The New York Times headlines highlighted the positive, "Chinese Greet Americans with Smiles and Curiosity," (16 April 1971). 5 The rest of the world critized this new 'Ping-Pong Diplomacy claiming, "This is not foreign policy. It just shows that Mr. Mao also knows something about Madison Avenue. 4 Regardless of public opinion, the game of ping-pong has forever changed the relationship between two of the worlds biggest powers.
When the Chinese visited the United States they were far less accepted than the Americans had been in China. In the beginning, their arrival and travel plans were kept secret to avoid anti-communist rioting, but that was hard to avoid. Protestors as well as supporters lined the area leading up to the airport. The Chinese were offended and felt disrespected by many of the American customs. Although most of their trip was rushed, they were grateful for what they saw and experienced in the United States. 5