A debate with no winner

Screen grab of the live chat between China Global Television Network anchor Liu Xin and Fox Business Network's Trish Regan on the latter's programme on May 30, 2019 (China time).

FOR the first time in history, TV anchors from China and the United States faced off in a live debate amid an escalating trade war bet­ween the two nations.

Liu Xin from CGTN (China Global Television Network), an international station of state-owned CCTV (China Central Television), and Trish Regan of Fox Business Net­work engaged in the debate after rounds of fiery exchange between the two.It started with Regan’s comment on the China-US trade war, titled “Trade war is on with China, we have upper hand, it’s now or never” on May 14.

She accused China of getting away with stealing US$600bil in intellectual property from the US annually.

A week later, Liu defended her country in a video recording, saying that Regan’s words were “all emotion and accusation supported with little substance.”

“Dear Trish, perhaps you need a better research team,” she replied.

The next day in her Trish Regan Primetime show, the American TV anchor spent 11 minutes responding to Liu’s clip.

“The Chinese are launching a full-scale information war against the United States of America and their newest target, me!

“Yeah, me! Because I have dared to say we should engage in economic warfare with the financial tools that we have,” she said.

Later, she took to Twitter to challenge Liu to a live debate.

“Hey #China State TV – let’s have an HONEST debate on #trade. You accuse me of being ‘emotional’ and not knowing my facts – wrong! You name the time and place, and I’ll be there! #TrishRegan”

Liu accepted and replied: “I hear you. Will get back to you very soon. But I don’t want to play any mud throwing game, if that’s what you prepare to do.”

The debate was fixed at 8pm (the US Eastern Time) on Wednesday or 8am on Thursday in China, which shares the same time zone as Malaysia.

In the 16 minutes on air, they talked about tariffs, Chinese development and intellectual property, among other issues.

The much-anticipated event sparked widespread attention from the media across the world, but it turned out to be a disappointment.

Many Chinese complained the debate was actually an interview, saying Liu was just answering questions posed to her by Regan.

They also complained that the time was too short to make the Americans understand China.

Liu has her own view.

She explained that she had not wanted to engage in a confrontation-­like debate but a chat with Regan to let the Americans hear the other side of the arguments.

“I always want it to be just a dialogue and I think this was exactly just the right thing,” she said in an interview with her colleague soon after the event.

She also kept her door open for another round of chat with Regan, not ruling out the possibility that they could be friends.

“She is a very nice woman if you read the emails that she wrote me,” she said.

“I used her as a mirror to look at the things that I have done in the past and I would say I have not been totally fair or emotion-less either.”

In another interview with CCTV, she revealed that from being addressed as “Hey, China state-TV” to “Madam Liu Xin”, Regan had become friendlier and in her latest emails, she called Liu just “Xin”.

She said the Fox anchor did send her the questions but she did not look at them because she knew what she wanted to talk about.

“I just spoke from the bottom of my heart,” she added.

In just one day, the post of the debate was viewed 130 million times, garnering 24,000 discussions on Weibo.

Weibo users also noticed the jade pendant necklace worn by Liu.

Jade is known as fei cui in Mandarin and Regan’s name is literally translated as cui xi.

Netizens said Liu hung “cui” on her neck, jokingly guessing that she had hoped to knock out her “rival”.

The debate pushed Liu’s popularity to a new height and she was ranked 14 in the Top Search Name List on search engine Baidu.

Now, who is this Liu Xin?

Hailing from Zhenjiang, a port city on the southern bank of the Yangtze River in Jiangsu province, she completed her degree course in English Language and Literature at Nanjing University in 1997, according to her profile on CCTV website.

Apart from Mandarin and English, the mother of two, who loves reading, listening to music and travelling, also speaks French.

Video clips of her competing in public speaking competitions during school time resurfaced again.

Liu is the first Chinese who won the International Public Speaking Competition. She spoke on the topic “The Mirror and I” at the event held in London in 1996.

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