“I Have No Comment”: Confrontational Maneuvering by Declaring a Standpoint Unallowed or Indisputable in Spokespersons’ Argumentative Replies at the Regular Press Conferences of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
As part of a research project on confrontational maneuvering in the spokespersons’ argumentative replies at the regular press conferences of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2015 and 2018, this article analyzes, within the framework of Pragma-Dialectics, how the spokespersons declare a standpoint at issue unallowed or indisputable in order to avoid having to resolve a difference of opinion as it is, according to the questioning journalist, presented by their immediate opponents. Starting from the various rationales the spokespersons presuppose to be understood and regarded acceptable by the questioning journalist and the international general public, three subtypes of declaring a standpoint unallowed or indisputable are differentiated: the “Necessity Rationale” subtype, the “Desirability Rationale” subtype, and the “Feasibility Rationale” subtype. The confrontational maneuvering by declaring a standpoint unallowed or indisputable carried out by the spokespersons is directed both at the immediate opponent and at the international general public. However, it is the international general public that the spokespersons primarily intend to convince. For this purpose, they make in all three subtypes of the unallowed or indisputable declaration an effort to adapt their response to their primary audience’s demand by making strategic choices from the available topical potential and the available presentational devices.
KeywordsConfrontational maneuvering Declaring a standpoint unallowed or indisputable Declaring a standpoint taboo or sacrosanct Pragma-Dialectics Regular press conferences of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Strategic maneuvering
This article is part of the research project “Investigating the Argumentation in Sino-US Trade Disputes” (No.14CYY053) sponsored by China’s National Social Science Fund; it is also part of the research project “Investigating the Argumentative Strategies in the Spokespersons’ replies at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs” (No. 2016SJB740019) sponsored by the Bureau of Education of Jiangsu Province. The author thanks the anonymous reviewers of the journal Argumentation very much for their insightful and helpful comments.
- The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. 2015. Workbook for governmental press conferences. Beijing: Wu Zhou Publishing House.Google Scholar
- van Eemeren, F.H., and R. Grootendorst. 2004. A systematic theory of argumentation: The pragma-dialectical approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- van Eemeren, F.H., and R. Grootendorst. 1992. Argumentation, communication, and fallacies: A pragma-dialectical perspective. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Wu, P. 2017. Strategic maneuvering by personal attack in spokespersons’ argumentative replies at diplomatic press conferences. Journal of Argumentation in Context 6(3): 282–314.Google Scholar
- Wu, P. “What is China’s comment?”: Confrontational maneuvering in the spokespersons’ argumentative replies at the regular press conferences of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (To be published).Google Scholar