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China in Africa: The Real Story

London Debate on the Motion: "Beware the Dragon: Africa Should Not Look to China"

Deborah Brautigam

SOAS Dean Stephen Chan at the Intelligence Squared Debate
I spent my birthday (!) last week debating the motion: "Beware the Dragon: Africa Should Not Look to China" at an Intelligence Squared event at Cadogan Hall in London.

For the motion: Ghanaian intellectual George Ayittey and Ana Maria Gomez, European Parliamentarian from Portugal. Against the motion: myself and Stephen Chan, Dean of Arts and Sciences at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies).

What struck me most was the large number of people who were undecided about this issue, and how hearing actual evidence and research -- instead of what passes for that in much of the media -- can swing public opinion. The audience vote before we started the debate was For the Motion: 154. Against 106, and Undecided 126. When the debate was over, the audience was polled again. For the Motion: 149. Against 212 and Undecided 25. Our side picked up 106 new votes. To understand why, you have to watch the debate. Don't miss Stephen Chan, he was superb!

The entire debate went from 6:45 until 8:30. It's all on Youtube. But you can also watch short pieces of it on Intelligence Squared's website, including each debater's starting presentations, about 10 minutes each. Here's the link to mine and the others are on the same page.