Faces of Nixon and Mao on ping pong paddles
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How 'ping pong diplomacy' brought Nixon to China

23 January 2014 Last updated at 00:55 GMT

In April 1971, at the height of the Cold War, a group of ping pong players became the first Americans to visit Communist China.

Their successful trip is often credited for reviving diplomatic relations between the two countries, who hadn't been in contact for 22 years.

Less than a year after the outbreak of so-called "ping pong diplomacy", Richard Nixon travelled to Beijing as the first US president to visit the People's Republic of China.

Author Nicholas Griffin tells the BBC why this sport was the perfect intermediary.

The interview was conducted at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus in Miami, Florida.

Produced by Ashley Semler and Franz Strasser; edited by Marc Allard

Picture This is a series of video features published every Thursday on the BBC News website which illustrate interviews with authors about their new books.