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'Basketball Diplomacy' Adds Vigor to High-level China-US Dialogue

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Holding an umber basketball in his hand, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo became the center of attention at the end of the first round of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Tuesday.

The basketball, with Barack Obama's autograph, is a gift from the US president to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan who is the co-host of the "Economic Track" of the dialogue.

The basketball is considered a symbol of the US government's hospitality and gratitude to Chinese officials for their efforts to host the dialogue next year in Beijing.

During his closing address, Dai, co-host of the "Strategic Track," hailed the "in-depth, broad, candid, and productive" discussions between the two sides, and expressed the Chinese delegation's appreciation of what the American government has done to arrange the dialogue.

He also said that the Chinese side will work together with the US side to make good preparations to ensure that President Obama's first visit to China later this year will be a success.

It was not the first time that basketball took the central stage during the two-day meeting.

During his speech at the opening session on Monday, Obama, who is a well-known basketball fan, reached out to his Chinese guests by quoting Chinese NBA star Yao Ming.

"As a new president and also as a basketball fan, I have learned from the words of Yao Ming, who said, No matter whether you are new or an old team member, you need time to adjust to one another," said the president.

"Well, through the constructive meetings that we've already had, and through this dialogue, I'm confident that we will meet Yao's standard," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 29, 2009)