On Wednesday 6th October the Reading Room was host to an epic battle of intellectual minds in the inaugural event of the new ‘Debating Matters’ series at Cranleigh. The motion for this event was ‘This house believes that China should be seen as an opportunity not a threat’, which was expertly proposed by the Upper Sixth team of Lucy, Robbie and Matt. The opening arguments from Lucy and Robbie focused on China’s rise as an economic powerhouse, left little option for the UK to see it as anything other than future trading partner, especially with the likelihood of a decline in US and European power in future years. They also acknowledged the number of moral challenges being closer to China might present, but argued that the best way to change perspectives on rights and the environment would be through friendly diplomatic terms, rather than as an adversary. 

The motion was opposed by the Upper Fifth team of Lauren, Sophie and Ozzy. They expertly rebutted the opening arguments from the proposition, focusing heavily on the threats that China poses to the key areas of human rights and the environment, with Lauren and Sophie offering a frightening and compelling vision of what could continue to happen around the world should China’s position on rights, in particular those of Uyghur Muslims, be brushed aside in the pursuit of greater economic growth. 

A fiery floor debate followed, with some expert questions from the audience, holding both teams accountable for the arguments that they had made and forcing them to fully justify their positions. It was wonderful to see members of the Lower Fifth not being afraid to challenge their seniors in the Upper Sixth team, alongside valuable contributions from guest judges Mr Williams and Mr Vaiani.  It was then over to Ozzy and Matt with the difficult task of summing up the arguments for their teams, with both of them successfully emulating courtroom barristers in their delivery to a highly engaged audience.  That same audience were then called upon to cast their verdict on which team had the strongest argument, and after some deliberation, the Upper Sixth team emerged as victors. 

This was a highly enjoyable evening with excellent participation from teams and audience alike. It is great to see debating grow as a discipline at Cranleigh and we hope that these events can act as a platform for Cranleigh to embark on a number of external competitions this academic year.