Society of Fellows in the Humanities Lecture Series 2022–2023
Book launch: Improbable Diplomats: How Ping-Pong Players, Musicians, and Scientists Remade US-China Relations
Date: February 24, 2023 (Friday)
Time: 5PM Delivery: Room 4.36, 4/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
Details and registration: All are welcome. No registration required.
Speaker: Pete Millwood, Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, HKU Moderator:
Guoqi Xu, Department of History, HKU
In 1971, Americans made two historic visits to China that would transform relations between the two countries. One was by US official Henry Kissinger; the other, earlier, visit was by the US table tennis team. Historians have mulled over the transcripts of Kissinger's negotiations with Chinese leaders. However, they have overlooked how, alongside these diplomatic talks, a rich program of travel and exchange had begun with ping-pong diplomacy. Improbable Diplomats reveals how a diverse cast of Chinese and Americans — athletes and physicists, performing artists and seismologists — played a critical, but to date overlooked, role in remaking US-China relations. Based on new sources from more than a dozen archives in China and the United States, Pete Millwood argues that the significance of cultural and scientific exchanges went beyond reacquainting the Chinese and American people after two decades of minimal contact; exchanges also powerfully influenced Sino-American diplomatic relations and helped transform post-Mao China.
Pete Millwood is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. A specialist in the history of U.S.-China relations, he received his DPhil in History from Oxford and then held postdoctoral fellowships at Tsinghua and Oxford Universities and the London School of Economics. He conducted archival research towards Improbable Diplomats during fellowships at Peking University and the Library of Congress. Dr Millwood's research and writing has appeared in Diplomatic History, the Journal of Contemporary History, the South China Morning Post, History Today, and the Washington Post.
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