Intelligence Squared Debate

Monday, June 25, 2007 7:14

Last week Jonathan Cohen of The Weiser Group alerted me to a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared entitled “Beware the dragon: A booming China spells trouble for America”.

According to his email:

Bill Gertz, John Mearsheimer and Michael Pillsbury spoke for the motion. Daniel Rosen, James McGregor and Stapleton Roy spoke against. James Harding of the Times of London served as moderator. A live audience of about 300 at Asia Society, New York City voted 35% for the motion and 59% against at the conclusion of the debate. Six percent (6%) were undecided

Initially, I thought this was going to be purely an economic debate given all the news surrounding trade and RMB, but it started off on a political (i.e. military strength) focus before moving to a pure economic assessment.

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While I am not one to get into politics in a public forum, I found this debate to be very interesting… and I think it is one that will be replayed over and over again as we get closer to the 2008 election.

The full program series:

Part I: Introduction
Part II: Bill Gertz
Part III: J. Stepelton Roy
Part IV: Michael Pillsbury
Part V: Daniel Rosen
Part VI: John J. Mearsheimer
Part VII: James McGregor
Part VIII: Q&A
Part IX: Q&A
Part X:Q&A
Part XI: Closing Remarks

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So, if you have 90 minutes I suggest you take the time to watch each of these.

As I have written in a number of posts, the U.S. political conditions will impact U.S. firms operating in China. We have seen this recently, and no doubt we will continue to see this as Nov 2008 approaches

Why this debate is so important is that you have arguably the best and brightest in terms of China knowledge, from a number of angles, all presenting for and against a topic that will surely be a hot button item for the near future.

And if these men are able to debate both sides of the issue so well (all having rich China experience in one form or another), imagine what will happen once the politicians get their chance to debate the issue.

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2 Responses to “Intelligence Squared Debate”

  1. David Adams says:

    June 26th, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Richard –

    Funny you cite that debate. I actually heard a one hour abridged replay on
    Public Radio in the US. It was very interesting. However, the basic question was a bit inflamatory. Also, I think the formal style of the debate encouraged the use of arguments that were technically viable but not substantial.

    In the end, ignorance in the US re: modern/rapid China development is our biggest problem. Some Americans seem unable to connect the dots. I once read a comment on a YouTube clip made in China that questioned the clip’s authenticity because ‘people can’t have computers or the internet in their homes in China.’ This is probaly the same guy in Waco, TX that buys a Chinese-made DVD player at Wal-Mart for $30 and still wonders why his kids should be doing any homework after school.

    Back to the debate, I find it interesting to have prominent China wonks flat out say that
    military confrontation between the US and China is inevitable. There is actually a fat Rand study (free at on the history of great power confrontation in the context of US-China relations. A bit old. But interesting, if you like this type of thing.

  2. Rich says:

    June 26th, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Hi David,

    Thanks for stopping in and pointing out the technical difficulty surrounding your comment (I believe I have it fixed now)

    Pretty much everything I read these days is inflammatory.. product scandals, RMB, politics, etc… and it is all pretty slanted as well.

    Rand does an excellent job, and I think the link for the Rand you are referring is actually Two of my favorite publications from them are Fault Lines in China‚Äôs Economic Terrain and Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy… both are VERY long.. but VARY good.

    Anyway, there are sure to be a few more wonks over the next 18 months, and as the level of political rhetoric heats up it will surely get more interesting for those of us working on China (Chris Corkery points that out in another post).

    Have a good week and thanks again for stopping in.