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Eleven universities. Six regions. Three days. Two categories. Two winners ...game on!
Organised by the ANU Chinese Debating Club and sponsored by College of Asia and the Pacific, School of Culture, History and Language, Australian Centre on China In the World and Student Extracurricular Enrichment F und, the 5th International Chinese Debating Championship was held at ANU from 2–4 August.
The participants from 11 universities and six countries/regions included: ANU, Adelaide University, Deakin University, Griffith University, University of Queensland, Melbourne University, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Sydney University, University of New South Wales, Tasmania University and Monash University, Peking University, University of Auckland, University of Malaya, City University of Hong Kong and New Era University College of Taiwan.
Most of the debaters were Chinese native speakers or heritage students. This year, for the first time, the ANU team included three non-native speakers currently learning Chinese at CHL —David Connah, Jacob Wilkinson and Jonathan Boyd. Two CHL Chinese lecturers, Dr Fengyuan Ji and Dr Yanyan Wang, were also invited to serve on the judges’ panel.
The topics in the preliminary rounds were complex, contemporary policy issues such as 'Should euthanasia be legalised?' and 'Should prostitution be legalised?' The ANU team performed exceptionally well, particularly the three non-native speaker participants who, having studied Chinese for only 2–3 years, challenged themselves to the limit and made a mark.
The final round was held at the James O Fairfax Theatre of the National Gallery. The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Hon. Gregory Andrews , was invited to present the prizes to the finalists. The topic for the final was 'Respecting all living beings is our moral duty. Do you agree?' and the competitors were asked to focus on a more philosophical approach to debating, incorporating both real- world statistics and discussions of what is right and wrong to support their cases.
The winner of the non-native speaker category was ANU second-year student Jonathan Boyd. Jonathan was excited to meet the diverse gathering of people with an interest in the Chinese language and Chinese people who wanted to break down cultural barriers and make new friends with people from all over the world. “I was honoured to meet the two finalists in the native speaking category from Peking University and University of Malaysia, as well as foreign affairs representatives from China and Australia.”
When asked about studying Chinese at CHL, Jonathan said:
I've really enjoyed studying Chinese at ANU, the teachers have been great, and there are so many opportunities available beyond just learning Chinese language that ANU has to offer, such as Chinese debating, going on short trips or exchange programs to China, and other events and competitions that arise. Because ANU has the 'Australian Centre on China in the World', we have some of the world's best researchers in Chinese language, history, economics and foreign policy, which allows the standard of teaching in a variety of disciplines that relate to Chinese to be of a very high calibre.
When asked about his experience with the ANU Chinese Debating Club, Jonathon said, "The people involved were always very supportive, and I'd like to thank them for helping me with any questions I had and helping me prepare, as they were always patient with my less than amazing Chinese language ability. I would highly encourage Chinese students or students learning Chinese to come along to a meeting and see what's on offer!"
The ANU team at the end of the prize-distributing presentation. Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Hon. Gregory Andrews, is in the middle (5th from the left).
Jacob and Jonathan debating in Chinese, with Jonathan being declared the champion.
Run by ANU students and led by Mengyuan Li, The ANU Chinese Debating Club always welcomes both native and non-native Chinese speakers to debate with each other, and with debaters from other universities.
More about the ANU Chinese Debating Club can be found here.