Cross-Cultural Dialogue in the China-US Trade War: A Corpus-Assisted Rhetorical Analysis of the FOX vs. CGTN Host Debate

30 May 2024
Conference Room

Cross-Cultural Dialogue in the China-US Trade War: A Corpus-Assisted Rhetorical Analysis of the FOX vs. CGTN Host Debate

This paper centres on the ongoing China-US trade dispute with a case study of an English-language debate between two hosts, Trish Regan from FOX Business and Liu Xin from CGTN. It employs a methodology combining corpus analysis techniques (semantic tagging, keyness and n-grams analysis in particular) with qualitative examination of the debate transcript and relevant news articles. Drawing upon the classic rhetorical theories by Aristotle and Confucius, the core finding suggests that rhetorical strategies effective in one cultural context may not translate well into another. The research findings attempted to locate the reasons and to shed light on further research in cross-cultural communication. Firstly, the often-neglected factor of this event, the level of equality of the speakers’ statuses, was discussed. Regan being ‘the primary definer’(Hall et al., 1978) put Liu on a relatively more defensive side with the need to provide more justification (logos, Aristotle, 1335b). Secondly, Liu’s speech can be interpreted as ‘normalizing’ certain happenings in response to the accusations, defending ‘the Correctness of Name’ rooted in the Confucian virtues. However, Liu was portrayed in non-Chinese media as the ‘mouthpiece’ given her seemingly less ‘authentic’ speech compared to Regan (ethos). On the contrary, while Regan’s directness seemed to be a strategy to enhance ‘authenticity’, it was portrayed in the Chinese media as ‘prejudiced’ and ‘biased’. Lastly, the analysis also suggested both the hosts and most of the news articles acknowledged the positive meaning of this debate and the fact that this debate set an example of future multilateral dialogue over trade negotiations. The study not only highlights the challenges in intercultural communication but also provides an innovative methodology for comparative rhetorical analysis. While some rhetorical traditions are not strictly tied to a single culture, understanding culturally specific rhetorical traditions and adopting a holistic view are equally imperative.



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