The world’s largest debate tournament, known as the World Universities Debating Championship, which was held in Bangkok, Thailand, censored a debate on the topic of Hong Kong this week after a group of Chinese students protested the topic’s inclusion by leaving the venue.
According to a report by the Hong Kong Free Press, the World Universities Debating Championship censored a debate on democracy in Hong Kong after a group of Chinese students walked out of the venue.
The World Universities Debating Championship brings together top debaters each year from universities around the world. This year, one topic the debaters were set to discuss was whether or not China should grant universal suffrage to Hong Kong citizens.
“The debate started out pretty well…[then] I saw a bunch of people who are ethnically Chinese getting up and leaving,” one of the students that participated in the Hong Kong debate said. “A whole row of people got up.”
The event’s livestream was taken down as the Chinese students exited the venue in protest. Shortly thereafter, the World Universities Debating Championship removed the Hong Kong topic from its list of scheduled debate topics that had been published to the competition’s website.
Organizers of the competition claim that they received no pressure from “any national body, embassy, or official” to cancel the debate on Hong Kong. In a statement, the World Universities Debating Championship claim now that the event’s broadcast was taken down because the participants did not consent to appear in the broadcast.
“This was true of most speakers in the round, and was communicated to the organising committee just before the round. However, due to language barriers and some miscommunication, the livestream continued to happen,” the group wrote in a statement. “Once we found out, we decided to remove the video, [because] preserving what remained of speeches that were consented to would have been simply of little value to the community at large.”