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China | Munk Debates

May 9, 2019

China

Be it resolved, China a threat to the liberal international order...

Pro
H.R. McMaster
Michael Pillsbury
Con
Kishore Mahbubani
Huiyao Wang
Result
Con wins by a narrow margin of 2%

Be it resolved, China a threat to the liberal international order...

Increasingly in the West, China is being characterized as a threat to the liberal international order, one that must be overcome through economic, political, technological and even military means. Supposedly, free and open societies, led by the United States, need to push back against the policies of the Chinese Communist Party to preserve a rules-based international order in 21st century. For others, this approach spells disaster. It ignores the history and dynamics propelling China’s peaceful rise to superpower status. Rather than undermining the post-war order, China is its best, and maybe only, guarantor in an era of declining U.S. leadership, increased regional instability and slowing global growth.

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Vote Results

Pro
Con

Pre-debate

76%

24%

Pos-debate

74%

26%

Con wins by a narrow margin of 2%

The Debaters

H.R. McMaster

"The Chinese Communist Party’s obsession with absolute control has profound implications not only for the Chinese people, but also for the rest of the world."

H.R. McMaster

"The Chinese Communist Party’s obsession with absolute control has profound implications not only for the Chinese people, but also for the rest of the world."

Until recently, H. R. McMaster was the 26th Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army for thirty-four years before retiring as a Lieutenant General in June 2018.

From 2014 to 2017 McMaster designed the future Army as Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center and Deputy Commanding General, Futures, US Army Training and Doctrine Command. As Commanding General, Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he oversaw all training and education for the Army’s infantry, armor, and cavalry force. His extensive experience leading soldiers and organizations in wartime includes Commander, Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force Shafafiyat in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012; Commander, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq from 2005 -2006; and Commander, Eagle Troop Second Armored Cavalry Regiment in Operation Desert Storm from 1990-1991. McMaster also served overseas as advisor to the most senior commanders in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

H.R. led important strategic assessments including the revision of Iraq strategy during the ‘surge’ of 2007 and efforts to develop security forces and governmental institutions in post-war Iraq. In 2009-2010 he led an assessment and planning effort to develop a comprehensive strategy for the greater Middle East.

McMaster was as an assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy from 1994 to 1996 where he taught undergraduate courses in military history and history of the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as a graduate course on the history of military leadership for officers enrolled in the Columbia University MBA program.

H.R. has published scores of essays, articles, and book reviews on leadership, history, and the future of warfare in many publications including Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He was a contributing editor for Survival magazine from 2010-2017, and is a current Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution. His award-winning book, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam, is a New York Times bestseller.

H.R. was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1984. He holds a PhD in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His military awards include the Silver Star Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart.

Michael Pillsbury

"If China undermines the world order in arms control, labor standards, human rights, international law and environmental pollution, it will be impossible to restore the last 75 years of global progress."

Michael Pillsbury

"If China undermines the world order in arms control, labor standards, human rights, international law and environmental pollution, it will be impossible to restore the last 75 years of global progress."

Michael Pillsbury is one of the world’s foremost China strategists. Called a “hawk” by the New York Times and “the leading authority on China” by President Donald Trump, he is a senior fellow and the director for Chinese strategy at the D.C.-based Hudson Institute think tank.
 
Pillsbury was born in California in 1945, earned his undergraduate arts degree from Stanford University and his masters and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. After graduating, he was the assistant political affairs officer at the United Nations and, later, an analyst at RAND Corporation, a U.S. non-profit think tank created to bolster research analysis for the U.S. armed forces. It was there that he began advocating for the United States to create intelligence and military bonds with China, which became U.S. policy during the Carter and Reagan administrations.
 
A staff member for four U.S. Senate Committees from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Pillsbury also served as special assistant for Asian affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, under President George H. W. Bush.
 
Pillsbury is the author most recently of The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, published in 2015.

Huiyao Wang

"China seeks to safeguard and enhance the liberal international order, not threaten it. Cooperation should be our common objective to promote multilateral global order so as to create peace and prosperity to benefit the world."

Huiyao Wang

"China seeks to safeguard and enhance the liberal international order, not threaten it. Cooperation should be our common objective to promote multilateral global order so as to create peace and prosperity to benefit the world."

Huiyao Wang is founder and president of one of China’s top independent think tanks, the Center for China and Globalization. He received his MBA from the University of Windsor in 1985, and a PhD in international business and global management from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Manchester. He was a senior fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
 
He is currently dean of the Institute of Development Studies of China’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.
 
Early in his career, Wang served with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, overseeing the international expansion of Chinese companies, and he has worked as Quebec’s chief trade representative in Hong Kong and China.
 
Wang has published more than 70 books, and hundreds of articles and papers in Chinese and English on global trade, governance, migration, Chinese inbound and outbound investment, Chinese diasporas and Chinese think tanks.
 
He is a frequent speaker at international conferences, such as the Davos World Economic Forum and the Paris Peace Forum, and was named one of the most influential people in 2018 by China Newsweek magazine.

Kishore Mahbubani

"China has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the 1945 Liberal International Order. It would be against China’s national interests to threaten this order."

Kishore Mahbubani

"China has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the 1945 Liberal International Order. It would be against China’s national interests to threaten this order."

Kishore Mahbubani is a Singaporean academic, author and former President of the United Nations Security Council. He is a senior advisor and professor in the practice of public policy at the National University of Singapore, and was the dean of the university’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy from 2004 to 2017.
 
Mahbubani studied philosophy at the University of Singapore and earned a master’s degree in the same subject from Canada’s Dalhousie University in 1976. His career as a diplomat with the Singapore Foreign Service included time in Cambodia during the Cambodian Civil War, postings in Malaysia, Washington, D.C., and New York, where he was Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations for two terms, and was president of the U.N.  Security Council twice.
 
The author of numerous books, including the provocative collection of essays Can Asians Think: Understanding the Divide Between East and West, Mahbubani published Has the West Lost It? A Provocation in 2018.
 
Numerous lists of globally influential speakers and thinkers bear Mahbubani’s name. London-based Prospect magazine called him one of the top 50 world thinkers in 2014 and the Financial Times listed him in 2009 as one of the top 50 individuals who would shape the debate on the future of capitalism.
 

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