Sept/Oct 2019 Public Forum Topic Selection | The Champion Briefs Blog
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August 1, 2019

Sept/Oct 2019 Public Forum Topic Selection

By Michael Norton

Topic Option 1 - "The European Union should join the belt and road initiative," is, in my opinion, the better topic.

For years, China has heavily invested in enormous infrastructure projects across the globe with the hopes of establishing a silk road of the 21st century. Many Eastern European and African nations have joined in, but much of Western Europe and the European Union has resisted up to this point. Option 1 therefore, "The European Union should join the belt and road initiative," is, in my opinion, the better topic.

Option One is an interesting hypothetical that should have plenty of ground for debaters to access on both sides. The belt and road initiative is a massively expensive endeavor that has put several countries in dangerous amounts of debt for projects of questionable value. At the same time, infrastructure investments on a massive scale can be incredibly utile, and often can't be accomplished without an external source of funding. The impacts on both sides will be enormous, affecting people across the globe. From a Chinese perspective, the impacts will largely be economic but also diplomatic gains will be made with the European Union. From a Western perspective, loans can be used to improve infrastructure and therefore the quality of life. From a global perspective, the belt and road initiative could potentially thwart wars, or if conflict emerges, it could be the catalyst.

The belt and road initiative would make for an excellent debate topic as it's a targeted initiative. Option one would enable debaters to discuss a specific policy as opposed to a trend or theme happening internationally. The resolution is more grounded and therefore easier to understand and less likely to become confusing for debaters down the line. That being said, there are still plenty of different interpretations as to how, when, or why the E.U. could even join the belt and road initiative. Ultimately, whether or not the belt and road initiative would be a massive undertaking for the E.U or simply another investment, the advantage it has as a debate topic is its specificity.

Thus, because this resolution has more ground for debaters to access on each side AND it's more specific, I believe this topic will lead to better, more balanced debates.

Topic Option 2 - "Resolved: On balance, Xi Jinping's power consolidation is beneficial to the People's Republic of China"

Over the course of his tenure as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping has made major steps to empower himself within his own government. While the leader of the Chinese Communist Party has always been a powerful position, Jinping has enhanced his own ability to spy, act covertly outside of the public eye, and act unilaterally. Option 2 - Resolved: On balance, Xi Jinping's power consolidation is beneficial to the People's Republic of China. - would therefore be an excellent topic for debate this upcoming month for the following reasons.

This topic promises to be an interesting one because it forces debaters to consider the effects on the People's Republic of China before considering other impacts. Unlike other normative debates, this resolution suggests that those impacts are the most important. Debaters must consider what the most important issues are to the average citizen, and contemplate whether the democratic values we consider so important in Western Society are truly that important for China. Normally, Public Forum resolutions revolve around the interests of United States citizens or they're framed simply as "should." This resolution is unique in that it requires debaters to engage in actor analysis and consider impacts from another perspective.

Another appeal of this topic is the relative scope of the topic. Jinping's consolidation has affected pretty much every aspect of the government. Anti-corruption efforts, military initiatives, economic reforms - the overwhelming majority of policy at this point is funneled through Jinping's office. Consolidation has made the executive position stronger and therefore more able to act unilaterally, which would enable Jinping to act quickly and precisely. However, by giving him more power to act without supervision, the odds of corruption also rise sharply. Furthermore, the odds of war and oppression go up. Jinping has been able to oppress minority groups within his country and rapidly decrease freedom of speech protections in large part because of his increased power. This resolution should be good because there are so many different policies and issues within the Chinese government that could be discussed.

Thus, because this resolution requires interesting actor analysis on a broad scale, I believe debaters will have the most fun with option 2, even if the depth of argumentation is not as great as option 1.

Don't forget to cast your vote through the NSDA website! Students and coaches can login before August 7 to choose their favorite topic.



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