Putting on My Debate Hat

I haven’t written much about the academic aspect of my experience thus far here at the LSE. To be honest, I really am still trying to figure out what is going on and what is the best strategy in tackling the course work and getting organized so I don’t seriously freak out come April. One thing for sure, I have been using my brain and drawing a great deal from two years of field experiences in the Peace Corps.

Last week, while attending the Wokai London Chapter launch event, I was cornered by Jono, a 2nd year Australian MPAer, into teaming up with him for the upcoming MPA Hot Topic – a debate series organized by the MPA Policy Forum. This round of debate topic was Is China the Security Threat of the 21st Century? I think the fact I am Chinese/Taiwanese and also America was largely the reason why I was targeted by Jono. I can rarely say no when people ask me favors as such, so I agreed.

Luckily, Jono had a good argument in place and all I had to do was strengthen some parts of it, add a few slides, talk for 7 minutes and answer some questions. Before the actual debate took place, I was tired and just wanted to end my day. But in the end, it turned out to be really fun. Our central argument was that there lacks an international institution such as the EU or NATO in the Asian region (note the recent incident between N. & S. Korea) will encourage China to gain hegemony power. Furthermore, tension with Taiwan is a major ticking bomb that in the unlikely chance of a major disagreement leading to conflict, US may intervene and the problem becomes a major international concern. There are also other factors such as lack of democracy in China (freedom of speech, press, etc), military spending, etc.

Prior to the debate, a poll was taken and 70% of argument took the stance of the opponent that Chinese is NOT the biggest security threat vs. 20% who were on our side and 10% who were indifferent. At the end of our compelling argument, we won the debate by earning majority support!

The whole thing turned out to be quite fun and we had a good laugh in some of the humors within the arguments. I also realized that my public speaking abilities have improved quite a lot due to two years in the Peace Corps. I suppose speaking English in front of people just isn’t that big of a deal after teaching and speaking to large groups of Cameroonians in French on a regular basis.

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