Conversation & Debate: Challenging China | Sam Kaplan & UAA Debate Team


Thursday, February 9, 2023    
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Bookings closed


Bear Tooth Theatre
1230 W 27th Ave, Anchorage, AK, 99503

Event Type

*Event is sold out*

Wait list will be started on a first come, first served basis. Remaining seats will be released after doors have closed.

Join AKWorld for a debate style program on the future of China featuring Sam Kaplan, author of Challenging China. We will be joined by members of the UAA Seawolf  Debate Team who will debate: The dream of China’s political liberalization following their economic liberalization is dead. Following the debate, our panel of China experts will determine who won the debate and add final remarks before the audience Q&A session.

Steve Johnson, UAA Associate Professor and Director of Debate will moderate the debate.

Featured speaker:

Sam Kaplan has worked with and in China and written about it for thirty plus years in a variety of business, policy and education roles. Currently he is director of the rather long-windedly named Center of Excellence for Global Trade and Supply Chain Management.

As president of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, Sam organized numerous trade and business missions to China and hosted countless delegations, business people, government officials and others from China.

Sam was a key member of the host committees for the visits of both President Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping to Seattle. This provided him an up-close view into the changing dynamics of China and U.S. relations. He also served as the President of the Boao Forum, Seattle LLC, managing the organization of a high-level clean technology conference in 2014 featuring government, business, and academic leaders from throughout Asia and North America such as Zhang Guobao, Bill Gates, and Henry Paulson. Sam acted as the Interim Executive Director for the Washington State China Relations Council concurrent to his role as TDA President.

While working for U.S. Representative John Miller, Sam handled the Congressman’s foreign affairs and international trade issues, including working on trade and human rights issues regarding China. Sam also steered the private sector effort for Governor Jay Inslee’s trade mission to China. He managed various business and non-profit leaders to build parts of the Governor’s agenda, including meetings with the Governor of Guangdong Province and a hosted “Washington State Day” in partnership with Vanke, the largest residential real estate company in China.

Sam publishes a weekly e-newsletter, International Need to Know, which is read each week by 400 to 1000 leaders, including CEOs, elected officials and nonprofit directors, featuring articles on China and other issues. He has been published in a variety of publications, including the World Bank’s Urban Age magazine.

With Michael Williams, he made the short film, Please Hold, a dark comedy about customer service. His novel, Munsrat Lives, is available on Amazon. He is currently working on a novel about the end of the world. It’s a comedy.

Joined by special guests:

The University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolf Debate Program was founded in 1972 as the Anchorage Community College Speech and Debate Team. Since its founding, the team has gained regional, national and international acclaim while representing the University of Alaska in competitive speaking tournaments. In the late 90’s, the ACC was merged with the University of Alaska Anchorage and the squad became the Seawolf Speech and Debate team. They continued to compete in individual events and Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) debate, earning awards throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the nation.

After refocusing the program from NPDA to International Style Debate in January 2005, the Seawolves garnered immediate international recognition by winning the Rotterdam Open tournament in the Netherlands. The team also continued to enjoy national success by winning the US Universities Championships in 2005 and placing 2nd to Harvard University at the US Universities Championships in 2006. In 2010, the team swept the top four speaker awards at the US Universities Championships, in addition to advancing two teams to the semifinal round of competition.

The focus of the team’s competitive season is now on the World Universities Debating Championships. In 2007, a Seawolf team reached the Semifinal round of the World Championships, beating out teams from Stanford, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford. This performance ranked them in the top 2% of teams in the world and as the top debate team in North America.

Over the last two years, the Seawolf Debate program broke three teams at the Worlds Debating Championships, saw three semifinalist and one finalist team at the US Universities Debating Championships, and climbed in the official World Debate Council’s ranking to the 9th most competitive program in the world based on its cumulative success at the last five World Universities Debating Championships. This ranking places the team in 2nd highest ranked team from the United States.

  • Check-in will begin at 11:15am with seating available on a first-come first-serve basis. The program will begin at 12:00pm.
  • Those with online reservations do not need to present ticket confirmation at the door, we will have all confirmed attendees on a list at check-in.
  • Lunch at this program will be available for individual order and purchase from Bear Tooth. If you wish to do so, plan on arriving early to ensure you receive your meal by the end of the program.
  • Students receive free admission and pizza buffet thanks to support from ConocoPhillips! Please be prepared to show your student ID upon check-in.
  • Online registration closes at 6:00 pm on February 8. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door the next day, unless the program is sold out. Contact with any questions.


Online registration is now closed for this event. Please contact to inquire about space.