- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

Pingpong diplomacy
Chinese Ambassador Yang Jiechi sees the tiny pingpong ball as a great symbol of international diplomacy.
Mr. Yang, in a recent speech in Chicago, reminded his audience that the exchange of U.S. and Chinese table-tennis teams in the 1970s opened the door for establishing diplomatic relations between the United States and communist China.
"The exchange of visits of the Chinese and U.S. table-tennis teams signified that the small pingpong ball has moved the big earth ahead," Mr. Yang said. "Such a great contribution will be recorded forever in the annals of history."
After the U.S. team's trip to China in 1971, President Nixon visited Beijing in February 1972. The Chinese team traveled to the United States two months later. The two countries opened liaison offices in each other's capitals the next year, and the United States formally recognized China in 1978.
Mr. Yang praised the "great vision" of Mr. Nixon, Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser at the time, and Chinese leaders Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai.
"Over the past 30 years, the improvement and development of China-U.S. relations has brought solid and tangible benefits to our two countries and peoples and served to promote peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large," he said.
Although he did not specifically refer to Iraq and North Korea, the ambassador noted that "under the current international situation, it is even more important for China and the United States to develop sound relations."
"Our two countries share important responsibilities in maintaining regional and global peace and stability, promoting global economic growth and prosperity, as well as in fighting terrorism.
"Compared with the past, our common interests are even greater and our cooperation prospect brighter."
President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin have held three meeting so far, and Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao traveled to the United States last year.
Mr. Yang, 52, said the leadership in China passed from the "old to the younger generation" with the recent election of a new central committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
The new leadership is "pushing forward all-directional reform," he said. "Now, various undertakings in China are forging ahead, bringing changes day after day."
Key Slovak departs
Slovak Ambassador Martin Butora is losing his top aide as Deputy Chief of Mission Milan Jezovica prepares to return to Bratislava to take up his new post as foreign policy adviser to the prime minister.
Mr. Jezovica was Mr. Butora's "brain trust, as well as the everyday-affairs manager behind our success," the Slovak Embassy said in a statement, announcing his departure at the end of the month. Mr. Jezovica helped Mr. Butora improve relations with the United States and gain U.S. support for Slovakia's entry into NATO.
Mr. Jezovica arrived in January 1999 "to strengthen the agenda" of the newly appointed Ambassador Butora, who arrived a month later.
"Looking back, the last four years have turned out to be special for Slovakia, as well as for them," the embassy said.
Mr. Jezovica will be replaced by Peter Kmec, deputy chief of mission at the Slovak Embassy in Israel. Mr. Kmec is a former deputy director of the foreign minister's office. He also served at the Slovak mission to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
A delegation from Afghanistan that includes Justice Minister Abdul Rahim Karimi; Bahauddin Daha, chairman of the Judicial Reform Commission; Musa Maroofi, a member of the Constitutional Drafting Committee; and Hanagama Anwari and Mohammad Farid Hamidi, members of the National Human Rights Commission. They will participate in a forum on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, sponsored by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Shizuka Kamei, a member of the Japanese parliament and former chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council.

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