International Learned Institute of Argumentation Studies - Pragma-dialectical Research and Education


Confrontational Maneuvering by Dissociation, by P. Wu

Wu, Peng. 2019. Confrontational Maneuvering by Dissociation in Spokespersons’ Argumentative Replies at the Press Conferences of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Argumentation 33/1: 1-22.


Within the framework of pragma-dialectics, this paper analyzes the use of dissociations in the spokespersons’ replies at the press conferences held by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2015 and 2017. As shown in the research results, to cut down the authority of their opponents in criticizing China and to convince the international general public of the Chinese standpoints, four subtypes of dissociation are used, which can be differentiated as: “distorted” Term I versus “authentic” Term II, “ambiguous” Term I versus “univocal” Term II, “broadened” Term I versus “exact” Term II, and “narrowed” Term I versus “exact” Term II. The strategic maneuvering carried out by the spokespersons in confronting their immediate opponents by means of the various subtypes of dissociation is in the first place directed at their primary audience, i.e. the international general public. To make a convincing case, in using dissociations the spokespersons not only adapt in their strategic maneuvering to the demands of their primary audience but also in their selection from the topical potential and the presentational devices.