Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Last week, ANU hosted 16 debating teams from universities across Asia and Australia for a three-day debating competition conducted in Mandarin Chinese.

The competition was held in a ‘presidential’ one-on-one format with participants debating mostly philosophical or topical social issues. Topics ranged from the merits of China’s online Baidu service, to whether the saying “silence is golden” still holds any standing in modern society.

The ANU Chinese Debating Club worked with the participating universities and ANUSA to organize the competition, a huge logistical effort to arrange accommodation for the competing teams and venues for the debates.

“Chinese debating is a great medium to access Chinese culture and connect it to modern life; it also raises awareness of Mandarin speaking”, said Tong Su, the host of the competition and Chinese Debating Club member. The club, with around 250 members, has represented ANU internationally at competitions in Singapore, China and Malaysia.  

To many in the audience,  the passion and flair of the debaters was very entertaining. The opening of the event was covered by the Canberra Times with reporter Ian Warden likening the spectacle of the Chinese debates to watching a European opera; enthralling but incomprehensible to the English speaking monoglot.

The set topic for the final debate was ‘’, meaning those who speak persuasively do not mean well, while those who do not seek to persuade bear no ill will. This saying is ascribed to Lao Zi, a Chinese philosopher who lived around 500BC. The winner of the final was Malaysia’s New Era University College taking home a prize of $600 and Hong Kong City University taking out runner up position with $400 prize money.

The overseas universities in the competition included teams from Renmin and Nanjing Universities in mainland China and City University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University from Hong Kong. National University of Malaysia and New Era University College also attended from Malaysia.

Almost every major Australian university was represented including Sydney, Melbourne, Deakin, Monash, UNSW, QUT, UQ and Adelaide. The debates began on Friday and were underway through to the final on the Sunday.

The competition was sponsored by H&T Realty and the proceeds from the sale of tickets at the final, held at the National Gallery, were donated to Red Cross China.