This brief article discusses the era of "ping-pong diplomacy," which started in 1971 when the U.S. table tennis team "got a surprise invitation from their Chinese colleagues to visit the People's Republic. Time magazine called it 'The ping heard round the world.' And with good reason: no group of Americans had been invited to China since the Communist takeover in 1949." Discusses events that followed during the administration of President Richard Nixon. From Smithsonian Magazine.